Junagadh, April 7: The Gujarat Government today claimed a breakthrough in investigations into the two poaching cases in the Gir sanctuary last month. Principal Secretary, Forest and Environment, P N Roychowdhury said the same gang of poachers who wiped out tigers from Sariska appeared to be involved in the Gir killings.
Poachers passing off lion claw as tiger’sFive lions not accounted for in Gir Saurashtra roars for the lionCarcasses of three more lions found in GirNandankanan white tiger numbers fall
“The evidence found so far indicates towards ‘Katnis’ who poached tigers in Sariska. They hail from Katni district of Madhya Pradesh, Roychowdhury told The Sunday Express. “But we are yet to identify the culprits,” he added.
The announcement came following the Friday arrests of two men and 13 women from Una town even as some of the prime suspects managed to escape. All of them are tribals and residents of Katni. A statewide alert has been sounded for the absconders.
According to local Crime Branch Police Inspector Subhas Raval, these tribals were spotted at Machhundri river under the bridge on Una-Bhavnagar road. The lion claws recovered from them indicate their involvement in the poaching incident. “The claws and knives recovered from them have been sent to FSL Junagadh for detail clinical examination and after receiving the report things will become clear,” Raval said.
“The lion claws recovered look fresh and they might be of those big cats, which were killed last month in Gir forest’s Babaria range,” he added. “The suspects have been booked under the Bombay Police Act 135 and have been handed over to the CID-Crime as it is the investigating agency,” he said.
Meanwhile, after an overnight stay at Sasan Gir, Chief Minister Narendra Modi today urged nature and wildlife lovers to launch a frontal attack on poachers who have inter-state and international links. He announced the formation of a separate Wild Life Crime Cell both in the state CID (Crime) and Forest Department to effectively deal with poaching by exchange of information and ideas with national agencies and wildlife experts and other state governments. Modi also unveiled Rs 40-crore worth Project Lion for effective and long-term conservation of the Asiatic lions in Gir.
He also said the state government would consider setting up ‘Fast Track Courts’ to decide wildlife crime cases and also engage reputed wildlife expert lawyers to fight these cases.