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Three held for smuggling tiger skin in Nainital

Indian police display three smugglers arrested with tiger skin they were trying to sell in Bhopal July 5, 2004. Police arrested the trio when they were trying to sell the tiger skin valued at Rs 2,000,000 ($ 44,444) in the international market. India is home to the world's largest population of tigers and the big cats, [which now number around 4,000, owing their survival to the government's strict wildlife laws protecting the endangered species.]

Nainital: Forest police on Wednesday arrested three men for smuggling a tiger skin in Nainital, Uttarakhand.

Divisional Forest Officer ( DFO), Parag Madhukar Dhakate, said police were keeping a close watch on activities in the area ever since intelligence inputs had come in.

“In the evening around 6 p.m. we stopped a motorbike with three riders. The man seated in the middle was holding a gunny bag. When we checked the bag we found the tiger skin inside. All the three men belong to the ‘van (forest) Gujjar’ tribe,” said Dhakate.

The three men have been booked under Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and other relevant laws.

The accused told forest police that a deal worth rupees 0.22 million had been fixed for the seized tiger skin and it was one of their accomplice only who had killed the tiger.

The smugglers would call the clients to their home to pick up their orders.

During interrogation, the three men also told forest police that this wasn’t the first time they were smuggling tiger skin.

India was home to an estimated 40,000 tigers at the turn of the last century, but poaching and the loss of habitat brought them to the brink to extinction.

However, the 2014 Status of Tigers in India report said that tiger numbers rose by 30.5 percent in four years, up from 1,706 tracked in the 2010 tiger census and just 1,411 animals four years previously. (ANI)