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Bangladesh’s ‘most prolific’ tiger poacher arrested after 20 years on the run

The Independent
The Independent

After evading arrest for nearly 20 years, a “prolific” tiger poacher, charged with killing 70 animals, was taken into custody by the Bangladesh authorities on Saturday.

Habib Talukder, 50, also known as Tiger Habib, was listed as the most wanted fugitive by both India and Bangladesh’s police and forest departments.

Police said they received a tip-off about his whereabouts at Madhya Sonatola village , adjacent to the forest, and arrested him in the early hours of Saturday.

The Dhaka Tribune reported that Mr Talukder operated in the Sundarbans mangrove forest on the border between India and Bangladesh. This area is known to have the world’s largest population of the Royal Bengal tigers.

Police chief Saidur Rahman said that arrest warrants had been issued for Mr Talukder earlier in three cases. “He was on the run for a long time.” Black market traders buy tiger bones, pelts, and flesh around the globe.

Mr Talukder was produced before a court and sent to jail on Saturday afternoon.

Md Joynal Abedin, the assistant conservator of forests of Sharankhola range, told the media that Mr Talukder had confessed to killing 70 tigers and was accused “in nine cases filed over forest crimes.”

He said: “He secretly entered the Sundarbans and hunted wild animals despite being banned from entering the forest long ago. He has been carrying out these criminal activities even though there are multiple cases against him… some powerful gangs are involved in this.”

The locals said that local people were scared of Mr Talukdar. One local, Abdus Salam, was quoted by the AFP as saying: “He's a dangerous man who could fight alone with [tigers] inside the forest.”

In 2018, there were 114 Royal Bengal tigers in the Sundarbans that fall under Bangladesh. According to the tiger census, in 2015, there were just 106.

As per the Bangladesh forest department data, 38 tigers had died in the Sundarbans between 2001 and July 2020. A number of them had been killed by poachers.

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