Narayan goes without a surname, perhaps to escape easy detection. He is the younger brother of Sansar Chand, widely held by wildlife authorities and experts as India’s biggest animal parts trader. He ran out of luck last week.
Rajasthan forest officials arrested him at the Tis Hazari courts on Thursday when he came for a hearing in the trial of his brother. And he is now telling a story, said officials, which could put his elder brother to shame.
“He has confessed to trading in body parts of 14 tigers and 20 leopards in the last 18 months,” said a Rajasthan forest department official, refusing to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to reporters.
“Forest officials from Uttarakhand have interrogated him and are taking necessary action,” said K.K. Garg, field director of Sariska Tiger Reserve, where forest officials are interrogating Narayan.
Narayan took over the family trade — spread across six states from Karnataka to Uttarakhand — after the arrest in 2005 of both his elder brothers, Sansar Chand and Rajkumar.
They don’t kill animals themselves. They simply put out their requirement -- with the price they are willing to pay -- among actual poachers who mostly live around the reserves and sanctuaries.
Wildlife authorities and experts were most worried about Narayan’s alleged confession that he bought body parts of 10 tigers and leopards from Ram Nagar, a locality on the edge of Corbett Reserve in Uttarakhand.
“His reported confession is scary,” said Belinda Wright of Wildlife Protection Society of India. “Corbett is remote, poachers can easily enter and kill tigers and leopards.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature rated Corbett the best tiger reserve in India based on a 2006 count. With 92 big cats -- one every 5.66 sq km -- it has the highest density of tigers.
It lost four of its tigers in 2009, among the 47 killed all over India.