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Friday, May 25, 2012

Couple selling fake tigers nails, paws held

TNN | May 25, 2012, 02.12AM IST NAGPUR: With poaching incidents on the rise in the recent past, the forest department is leaving no stone unturned and officials are taking even fake seizure seriously. On Thursday afternoon, acting on a tip-off, the wildlife and territorial wings of the forest department arrested a couple selling fake tiger nails and paws on RPTS Road near Laxmi Nagar. The couple has been identified as Rajgir Pahadirajput (32), and Mamuta Pahadirajput (25). Both claimed to be residents of Shanti Mufatlal Nagar slums in Thane near Mumbai. The couple originally belonged to Shimoga in Karnataka. The tip-off was given by sarpa mitra Chinmay Deshpande to naturalist Udayan Patil and honorary district wildlife warden Kundan Hate. Deshpande engaged the couple in talk till Patil and Hate reached the spot. The nails and paws were being offered for Rs 1000-4000 depending on the bargaining power of the customers. "We followed the couple travelling in an autorickshaw from RPTS to Wardha Road near Paul Complex. The woman got down and went near a footpath in search of a customer. We caught hold of them and brought to the forest office," said Hate. During search, several fake tiger nails and paws were seized from the couple's custody. The accused were selling nails and paws under the garb of 'rudraksh' malas and 'jadi buttis'. The nails and paws kept in two bags were also examined by assistant conservator of forest (ACF) Kishore Mishrikotkar and Girish Vashisht who found them to be fake. Vigilance divisional forest officer (DFO) D W Pagar alerted the anti-poaching and mobile squads to conduct raids near Khapri bridge where the gang of Pahadirajputs was staying illegally. Rajgir said there were eight members spread out in the city selling the fake nails and paws to prospective buyers. While in custody, he received several calls from the customers, indicating the gang had a good network in the city. The gang is living in the city for the past two months. Its other members are operating in Wardha too. The couple admitted to making fake nails and paws with the help of goat skin hair and paws. Dead cattle hooves were stuck with good quality glue to the goat paws giving it a shape like tiger paws. After panchnama, the couple was taken near Khapri bridge where four male gang members fled in the dark leaving all women members. The squad seized more than 100 fake nails and paws. While filing the report, the search and hunt for absconding members was still on. During the probe, the couple denied they were professional poachers. They even claimed they have never sighted a tiger in the wild, but had no answers how they landed up in the trade. They claimed to be 'toran' sellers. Although no case can be made under the Wildlife Protection Act for selling fake tiger nails and paws, a case can be filed under Section 420 of the IPC. The forest officials plan to hand over the investigations to the police department.

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