Blackbuck poaching racket busted priest among five persons arrested by Belagavi Division forest mobile squad

Dr B Thomas (Special correspondent)

T he forest mobile squad of Belagavi division, busted a poaching racket and arrested a 32-year-old priest of a temple for running a blackbuck poaching racket .

The accused has been identified as,Thyagaraj Lakshman Lamani,24 and his associates,as, Gurunath Basavaraj,23,Beerappa Nagappa Medleri,32,Theerkappa Marappa Goder,50, Nagappa Dyamappa Harijan,45 .

The accused were poaching in most inhuman ways at the Ranebennur sanctuary by setting snare, iron mesh net across the forest area in the night time before setting the trained hunting dogs to chase them in one direction and also placing explosives in a pack of eatables to attract the blackbucks.

The accused would then take out the skin,horns and meat to sell it to the clients of Priest for a price ranging from Rs.5 lakh per skin.

Based on a tip off,Seema Garg,Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (vigilance) directed the forest officials to probe the matter .

A team led by Suresh Teli,Assistant Conservator of Forest,approached the gang on the pretext of buyers and clinched a deal for three skins.

The officials caught Tyagaraj Lakshman Lamani, 24,and his associate Gurunath Basavaraj,23, when they came to handover three pelts at Ranebennur bypass on Saturday.

Based on their information the police arrested Beerappa Nagappa Medleri,32,a bachelor and priest and a healer at Devaragudda temple also runs a ashram.

He operate through his hunting gang,Theerkappa Marappa Goder,50,Nagappa Dyamappa Harijan, 45 .

Investigations revealed Beerappa used to lure his rich devotees visiting Devaragudda through religious beliefs and rituals that possessing blackbuck pelt will get them fortune.

He also promised to get the skin to them through his contacts.

After the deal,he would direct his hunting team to get the skin or horns as per the deal the horns are being sold to vehicles owners to place it as trophies in front of their vehicle.

Many dealers selling pooja items also buy blackbuck skin cut into the size of chocolate wrappers,which are in high demand among a perticular community for their ritual,the officials, added.

The skin in the size of chocolate wrapper size is also cheap and fast moving item and also avoid legal hassle,the officials added.

The hunting team would get the meat and Rs. 50,000 for every skin,Berappa would keep the remaining Rs.4.5 lakh,the officials revealed.

Beerappa confessed that he had poached five blakcbucks this year and the officials managed to get only three skins.

The Gang is operating for the last two years but the officials are probing to ascertain their criminal activities and network.Beerappa was earlier booked under wildlife act for selling sand boa last year said a senior forest official.