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Protection Agencies Turning to Technology and Undercover Agents

 

30.11.2010

One night in 2005, 35-year old poacher Rampratap Meena hid a spring-loaded iron trap under the branches of a tree next to a waterhole in the Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, India. He baited the trap with a buffalo carcass, then he and an accomplice climbed up a nearby tree to wait. In the early hours, a tiger walked towards the waterhole and the vicious jaws of the trap slammed closed on its foot, stopping it in its tracks and making it roar with pain.

Meena quickly took out a gun and shot the tiger dead. At dawn, he and his friend climbed down from the tree, skinned the tiger, hid its head in the forest, buried the flesh and skeleton in tall grass, then hid the skin in a cornfield near their village. The next day, Meena made a deal with local wildlife dealer Kalya Bawaria for a mere INR25,000 (US$540) for the grisly remains of the once-proud animal.

“This sort of work is not for the fainthearted,” says Belinda Wright, founder and executive director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), who leads the WPSI tiger task force.


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