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Wildlife warden demands SIT probe into Rajaji leopard poaching incident

A forest team had seized leopard skin and other body parts hidden in pits in the core area of the tiger reserve

dehradun Updated: Apr 27, 2018 21:57 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Leopard poaching,Wildlife poaching
A seized leopard skin (Photo for representation).(HT File)

Uttarakhand chief wildlife warden DVS Khati has demanded a special investigation team (SIT) probe into seizure of leopard skin in Rajaji Tiger Reserve’s core area on March 22.

Khati made the demand in a letter he wrote to additional chief secretary Ranbir Singh on April 25.

So far, a man has been arrested in connection with the case.

Citing findings of a previous investigation conducted by Komal Singh, acting warden Rajaji, Khati has mentioned that role of a few senior forest officers and employees was dubious supporting his demand for the probe.

“I have requested the SIT investigation for a transparent investigation from the government,” Khati said.

A team constituted by head of forest force (HoFF) and principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF), Jai Raj, conducted the seizure in Motichur range of the tiger reserve where a decomposed leopard hide and bones were found in pits.

The seized body parts were sent to Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for DNA analysis.

The HoFF received a tip off and sent a team to the spot that got in touch with the Rajaji management and raided the spot.

The team was led by former acting deputy director of the park Anup Bhindola.

The reserve staff later arrested Amit alias Sonu, who had worked as an informer for the reserve. Sonu claimed that he met Bhindola a few days before the seizure, indicating Bhindola’s involvement. Bhindola, however, claimed that he was innocent.

Sonu’s role, however, remains dubious. Those close to the matter claimed he always had credible information about poaching in and around the reserve.

Tiger translocation is planned in Motichur and its nearby areas. Some activists have raised concern over the fate of translocated tigers if the management and forest department can’t stop poaching of big cats.

Jai Raj refused to comment on the issue.

First Published: Apr 27, 2018 21:57 IST