BHOPAL: A section of Pardhis from Madhya Pradesh have yet proved to be the biggest threat to wild life; particularly the big cat population in India. Very recently they are reported to have smuggled half a dozen tiger hides to an international syndicate from their base in Katni district. And all this while wild life officials, busy pitching for lions from Gir in Gujarat to the state, appeared blissfully ignorant.

The poaching racket headquartered at Katni was busted on Sunday with the arrest of three Pardhis by a crime branch team of Maharashtra police from Nagpur. The arrests were made from a village in Nagpur on specific inputs from an organisation working for wildlife.

The accused Chika alias Krishna, Badlu alias Mangru and Shiri – all residents of Katni’s Sagoni village -have confessed to selling five tiger hides so far to a Haryana-based trader. The deal was worth Rs 20 lakh for three tiger hides, said sources.

Poachers Snare

Poachers Snare

One of the tiger, they said, was poached from Mandla district. However, no tiger hides have been confiscated so far.

Now, the forest officials in four statesMaharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh – are on the lookout for 30 more Pardhis, from two villages (Sagoni and Billhari) in Katni district. Pardhi families from Katni disappeared from these two villages a day before the trio were arrested, said sources adding that the information got leaked.

Most of the accused on run are close relatives of the 37 Pardhis arrested from Katni for poaching lions from Gir national park in Gujarat in 2007. Teams have been dispatched to different locations tracking cell phones.

According to forest officials, the Maharashtra police had placed several Pardhis of Katni on surveillance besides intercepting their calls while the deal was being made. The arrest was made only after the skins were sold.

The 30-member gang got Rs 35,000 each from the first deal, said sources. They kept on changing their locations from one place to the other while striking the deal. Reportedly, the police could confiscate a few bones from them, which has been sent for forensic examination for identification of the species.

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