Bhutanese poachers behind killing of Tiger and Leopard

Forest officials track down and apprehend three long-time poachers. The tiger was poached by their Indian counterparts along the Assam-Bhutan border on request while the leopard was killed in Nganglam.

Three long-time Bhutanese poachers were apprehended in connection with the illegal transaction of tiger and leopard parts on 26 March.

However, what could send shockwaves through Bhutan’s conservation community is that the Tiger was killed along the Assam-Bhutan border near the Royal Manas National Park by Indian poachers on the request of the Bhutanese poachers. The poachers confessed that the Tiger had been killed a month ago.

Sources, say that the apprehended Bhutanese poachers had a well-established network with Indian poachers from whom they bought Tiger skin and then planned to sell it to Chinese buyers using the Paro and Haa route to smuggle the skin.

An official involved in the investigation said that though this was the first case of its kind there could be other unreported cases.

The Bhutanese poachers themselves had killed a leopard in Neshingborang forest under Norbugang village, Nganglam by adding poison to the carcass of the horse it had consumed.

The poachers were apprehended in Nganglam under Samdrup Jongkhar by the Forest Protection and Surveillance Unit (FPSU).

The offenders stated that the tiger skin was bought at a sum of Nu 95,000 from their friends but the bones were not handed over to them by their Indian counterparts.

The poachers involved are Kinzang Wangdi (50) who is a carpenter by profession from Gelephu, Tashi Namgay (40 plus) and Sonam Phuntsho (40 plus) both of who are from Nganglam.

According to their confessions, the mastermind was Tashi Namgay who had his links with the Indian poachers and also made the plan. The person who financed the entire operation was Sonam Phuntsho while Kinzang Wangdi was a willing collaborator.

On 23 March, the officials upon being tipped off by their informers recruited a middle man who would on the pretext of being a buyer fix a date and place for trading.

The poachers agreed that the transaction would take place at Nganglam and the price was fixed at Nu 500,000 for the skins.

On the same day, the FPSU team proceeded to Nganglam via Gelephu and upon reaching Nganglam, sent the middle man to situate the exact area where the poached items were alleged to have been kept.

The man took almost two hours to get to the site with the help of two local men who took him to Sonam Phuntsho, at the end of a farm road, almost 25 to 30 km long. He helped the middle man locate the items which was kept a few meters away from the farm road with one of his friends.

As instructed by the officials, the middle man returned with the photographs of the items and the suspects. After verifying the photographs, the suspects were asked to bring the items to Nganglam for the final payment.

On 26 March, the poachers were supposed to bring the items in a taxi at around 10:15 am but when the officials apprehended the suspects, the tiger and leopard parts were missing.

The officials however interrogated the suspects in Nganglam range and the footage captured by the middle man established the suspects’ guilt.

The suspects after their confession to the act revealed that the items were kept veiled in the ceiling of a hut where they were residing.

The offenders stated that the tiger skin was bought at a sum of Nu 95,000 from their friends but the bones were not handed over to them by their Indian counterparts.

The Tiger skin measured nine feet by eight inch in length and one foot by 11 inch in breadth while the leopard skin measured six feet by 11 inch in length and two feet by one inch in breadth. These were confiscated from the poachers.

“The items were handed over to the Wildlife Conservation Division (WCD) to be kept at the Taxidermy Center in Taba where it will be mounted,” said Deputy Chief Forestry Officer, FPSU, Karma Tenzin.

One of the three suspects is a repeat offender and the case has been settled as per the provision of Forest and Nature Conservation Rules, 2006.

It is estimated that there are around 100 tigers in Bhutan. In early 2008 the Bhutanese forest officials found pug mark and photographic evidence that Tigers in Bhutan were also being found at the snowline. This was reported by the local media.

In 2010, a BBC crew without crediting existing Bhutanese data claimed to have ‘discovered’ a lost tiger population at high elevation creating an international sensation. The global Tiger population is estimated to be between 3,062 to 3,948.

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  1. they should castrate these 40+ pests ( I doubt they need their balls any longer), dry them and sell them to the Chinese as musk. If it works out I’m sure we have plenty of Indian poachers to catch and castrate to keep the supply steady. 

  2. None of the newspapers state the penalty that the culprit will face,when one is caught going against the law of land. Public would be aware if such pelalty is announced by the media.

  3. concerned smoker

    The offenders stated that the tiger skin was bought at a sum of Nu 95,000 from their friends but the bones were not handed over to them by their Indian counterparts.

    has been written twice. 

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