Shera was the symbol of the Commonwealth Games, but the shera (tiger) has been almost exterminated in our country, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday.
The apex court made the observation while dismissing poacher Sansar Chand's petition challenging his conviction in a case of smuggling of animal parts.
"The Sher Khan of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, which once abounded in India, is rarely to be seen today," the bench lamented while upholding a five-year sentence imposed on Chand.
Chand had appealed against a Rajasthan High Court verdict holding him guilty of smuggling claws, skin, teeth and other animal parts.
The case was based on a disclosure statement made by one Balwan, arrested in Bhilwara, Rajasthan, in 2003 with a carton containing leopard skin. Balwan had told police that two of the leopard skins were to be delivered to Chand at Sadar Bazar in Delhi.
"The appellant, Sansar Chand, has been doing this illegal trade for more than 30 years. He is habitual of doing this illegal business of trade in skins and parts of panthers and tigers," the bench said, taking note of his involvement in dozens of cases under the Wildlife Act in Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.