Panvel, January 7, 2014: The Maharashtra forest department, in an operation assisted by Internation Fund for Animal Welfare-Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI), arrested seven suspects in the last week of December in connection with the poaching and trade of a leopard skin and nail. They have been charged under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and and are currently under police remand, as ordered by the Panvel Judicial First Class Magistrate.
The entire operation, led by ACF K G Aloorkar in consultation with IFAW-WTI, occured after the forest department had been alerted about probable poaching activities within the Matheran Forest Range. Following the information, two suspects, Satish Hari Warei, Ravi Umaji Mengal, were arrested en-route to Panvel from Matheran with a leopard skin concealed in a gunny bag. Lahu Umaji Mengal and Anand Dharma Dharora were later arrested on the same day in connection to the case. Three days later, acting on information provided by the accused, Dipak Hanumant Doifode, Bharat Kishan Karande and Bharat Goru Choudhari were also arrested after a leopard nail was recovered from them. Three other suspects are currently absconding.
The leopard skin had been concealed in a gunny bag.
“We commend the forest department on the swift action taken, making the operation a success. Well planned operations with such clinical precision and dedication will help curb wildlife crimes in the future as well,” said Jose Louies, the Lead for WTI’s Wildlife Enforcement and Law division.
Last year, IFAW-WTI had assisted various Forest Departments in 16 successful seizures out of which 14 were of big cat skins and body parts, including one in Mahabaleshwar, in June 2013, where eight people had been arrested in possession of a leopard skin, bones, claws and two illegal guns.