Bangladesh police arrest notorious poacher 'Tiger Habib' after he slaughters 70 endangered Bengals
A notorious poacher accused of killing at least 70 endangered Bengal tigers has been caught in Bangladesh after evading arrest for 20 years.
Habib Talukder, 50, nicknamed “Tiger Habib” was arrested in the early hours of Saturday from a village adjacent to the Sundarbans mangrove forest in southern Bagerhat district.
He is said to have turned poacher after starting out as a collector of wild honey.
“Talukder lived next to the forest area and would take advantage of dense foliage and escape from our net. This time, we had specific information about his location and he ran out of luck,” said Sharankhola police chief Saidur Rahman.
“He was known for his hunting skills and was listed as a most wanted fugitive for both police and forest officials,” Chief Rahman said.
Mr Talukder was brought before a court that sent him into judicial custody after police formally charged him for the hunting of three tigers and five deer, the official said.
Muhammad Joynal Abedin, the assistant conservator of forests of Sharankhola range, said Mr Talukde had confessed to the killing of at least 70 tigers. “He was on the run for a long time. There are nine cases of forest crimes registered against him,” Mr Abedin said.
Mr Talukder began his career as a wild honey collector in the mangrove forest, and eventually turned into a notorious wildlife hunter after killing the first tiger in his 20s, Mr Abadin said.
He would secretly enter the Sundarbans and hunt wild animals despite being banned from entering the forest long ago, he added.
Mr Talukder is believed to have links with gangs that operate across Sundarbans, poaching wild animals and profiting from selling their pelts, bones, teeth, and raw meat in the black market, Mr Abadin said.
The Sundarbans forest, which meets the West Bengal in India, is home to the royal Bengal tiger. Sixty percent of the Sundarbans, a UNESCO site of intangible heritage, lies in Bangladesh.
There were 114 Royal Bengal tigers in 2018 in Bangladesh, according to a government census, a sharp dip from the 440 tigers tallied in 2004.
On the Indian side of the Sundarbans, there are 103 Royal Bengal tigers.
Royal Bengal Tigers have a unique habitat and are the only tigers in the world that inhabit mangrove forests.
“Poachers are posing a big challenge but the bigger threat to tigers at present is the market in China, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries where people are consuming tigers. It is driving the market," Qamar Qureshi, Scientist of Wildlife Institute of India, told the Daily Telegraph.
"What is needed is how the consumption in China can be controlled. The day it will be controlled, not only tigers, but a whole range of other wildlife will be safe.”