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I killed 7 big cats: Poacher


27 Sept 2007

Times of India

NAGPUR: Notorious poacher and tiger skin smuggler Laxman Pardhi, who was arrested by the forest department and police personnel from Chanera village in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh, has confessed to have killed seven big cats.

Earlier, it was reported that Laxman was directly involved in the poaching of five wild cats four years ago. However, top official sources on Wednesday said the number is not five but seven - ­three tigers and four leopards. Laxman made this confession to investigating officers during his forest custody remand (FCR) which expired on September 23. Laxman has been sent to magisterial custody remand (MCR) till October 2.

Laxman, arrested 10 days ago, has also confessed to having links with international tiger skin smuggler Sansarchand. "He has accepted his role in direct killings besides acting as a carrier and supplier of traps and vehicles," B S Hooda, field director and conservator of forests, Melghat Tiger Reserve, told TOI.

Meanwhile, the forest department personnel have obtained the custody of woman poacher Kamla Chavan who was in magisterial custody. She was arrested on September 3.

"Kamla is now in the custody of Jarida forest range officials. Earlier, Chaurakund range officials recorded her statements. Her custody would be obtained by forest officials of ranges to locate exact sites where the crime was committed," said Hooda. "We would also seek FCR of Laxman so that the cases against both of them are made intact," he added.

Meanwhile, department sources said Laxman poached wild cats and used to skin them at his or Kamla’s house. Then, both used to take the skin to Delhi to Sansarchand or look for dealers at Dharni. These dealers are now on the run.

Meanwhile, Kishor Rithe, president of Satpuda Foundation, said: "We have been crying hoarse for past 10 years that the situation in Melghat is alarming and steps to curb poaching activity must be taken up on a war-footing. However, when we raised the issue in 1999, top officials denied that poachers were active in Melghat."

Rithe added that the NGOs’ fears have come true with the arrests of Laxman and Kamla. However, he said, these arrests are just a tip of the iceberg and the issue needs to probed comprehensively. "These poachers are strong enough to wriggle free with money power," Rithe said. 

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