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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Top Indian 'tiger poacher' held
Sansar Chand
Sansar Chand is wanted by the police in many Indian states
Indian police have arrested a notorious wildlife smuggler who is wanted in several cases of poaching.

Police in the Indian capital, Delhi, say they arrested Sansar Chand after an intensive manhunt by crime branch detectives which lasted months.

He was sentenced to five years imprisonment by a court in Rajasthan in 2004 for smuggling two leopard skins.

But Sansar Chand was released on bail three months later. He has been on the run since.

He is wanted by police in several Indian states and is also said to behind the recent disappearance of tigers from the Sariska reserve in Rajasthan state.

"We have enough evidence to link Sansar Chand to the tiger poaching cases in Sariska," the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, US Mishra, told the Indian Express earlier this month.

Officials said up to 10 tigers were poached from Sariska in the past two years - the news greatly alarmed conservationists and the Indian government which has since set up a task force to protect the tiger.

Hunting popular

The gravity of the situation was underlined by a recent appeal by the United Nations asking the Indian government to take steps to save tigers.

Wildlife campaigners say that although poaching is illegal in India, hunting remains popular.

They say that because police tend to ignore expeditions by the rich, famous or powerful, efforts to conserve protected animals are often hampered.

Investigations into the disappearances at Sariska by the CBI revealed that forest guards were mostly unarmed and had limited communication facilities.


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