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Two wildlife traders land in police net

The duo allegedly has links with wildlife poacher and smuggler Sansarchand

BANGALORE: The State Police (Forest Cell) has apprehended two persons who were allegedly involved in illegal wildlife trade in south India. The arrest is being seen as a major success in curbing the illegal wildlife trade in this part of the country.

Talking to reporters on Monday, Inspector-General of Police (Forest Cell) K.S.N. Chikkerur said that while Prabhakar Keshav Gajakosh was arrested in December, his associate, 69-year-old Abdul Khader Chowdhary, was arrested in Hyderabad on Sunday. The duo allegedly has links with Sansarchand, the notorious wildlife poacher and smuggler, against whom numerous cases have been registered in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttranchal, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Tiger bones

The two allegedly traded with another wildlife trader Shabir Hasan Qureshi, who was recently arrested by Uttar Pradesh police for possessing tiger pelts and 75 kg of tiger bones.

Gajakosh and Chowdhary have been arrested in connection with the recovery of tiger, leopard and common otter pelts from Gajakosh’s residence at Hubli in Dharwad district and Haliyal in Uttara Kannada district. In December, Forest Cell sleuths had recovered skins of one tiger, 23 leopards and 43 common otters.

The police registered cases against Gajakosh and four persons. During interrogation, Gajakosh, who is stated to be involved in peddling wildlife products for the past 15 years, revealed that he, along with Chowdhary, was involved in the trade. “He said this in his confessional statement before a police officer,” Mr. Chikkerur said.

A team of Forest Cell sleuths took the assistance of Andhra Pradesh police and traced Chowdhary in Mushirabad of Hyderabad.

“There were three Chowdharys in that area. We located the person we wanted by dialling the mobile phone number stored in Gajakosh’s mobile phone,” Mr. Chikkerur said and added that the police did not find any pelts in Chowdhary’s house. Chowdhary was produced before the jurisdictional magistrate court in Hubli on Monday and was remanded in judicial custody. Mr. Chikkerur said Gajakosh and Chowdhary were passing on the tiger pelts to Sansarchand’s brother Rajkumar, who was making frequent visits to Hubli and Hyderabad. “Rajkumar was taking the pelts to New Delhi by neatly wrapping them in newspapers to resemble a packet of books.”

Similarly the duo was sending pelts to Qureshi, who revealed the names of Chowdhary to the Uttar Pradesh police. “I have informed the U.P. police top brass about the arrest and has asked them to interrogate Chowdhary,” Mr. Chikkerur said.

The police, he said, has been able establish the links of the two with Sancharchand’s wife, Rani, I.P. Singh of Hassan, and other accused arrested by the Jaipur police in 2005 for poaching of tigers. The duo has contacts with Hariprasad Lasakchand, the father of Durra, a Bahelia tribe who specialised in trapping the wild animals using jaw traps. “We are looking for persons working for Chowdhary in this big wildlife trade racket,” he said.

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