|Protection Agencies Turning to Technology and Undercover Agents
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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