"As Asian Luxury Market Grows, A Surge in Tiger Killings in India"

"Poachers killed more tigers in the forests of India in 2016 than any year in the last 15. The spike is linked to demand for tiger parts in China, where the endangered animal’s bones and skins are regarded as exotic luxury items."

"From 1990 to 2013, the notorious tiger poacher Kuttu Bahelia and his extended family — brothers, uncles, and their wives and children — reportedly killed hundreds of tigers and leopards in the tiger-rich Indian states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, according to law enforcement informants and media reports. “Even if half that [estimate] is correct, it is still a very significant number,” says Belinda Wright, who directs the non-profit Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI).

So there was relief when, after years of eluding the police, Kuttu was arrested in 2015. He faced at least six counts of tiger poaching in forests across the central state of Maharashtra and was held without bail. On January 21, 2016, he was taken to court to stand trial in the first of those cases, for allegedly poaching a pair of tigers three years earlier. After his court appearance, while being transported back to jail, he begged to make a restroom stop — and fled into the forest, handcuffed, successfully evading his two police escorts.

Authorities launched a manhunt, but Kuttu — who is descended from a long line of traditional hunters — had vanished."

Sharon Guynup reports for Yale Environment 360 January 10, 2017.

Source: YaleE360, 01/12/2017