Following up on the leads provided by the TEHELKA expose on Tiger poaching, the National Wildlife Crime Control Bureau functioning under the aegis of the Ministry of Environment has launched one of its biggest
law enforcement operations. The police and forest department’s officials in Uttarakhand have been roped in for these operations.

A special team led by Pithoragarh Divisional Forest Officer D.T.G. Sambandam and assisted by Assistant Conservator of Forest Mahipal Sirohi and Forest Ranger Himalaya Singh Tulia achieved the first breakthrough on
December 23, 2010 when they apprehended Kailash alias Gullu, one of the poachers exposed in the TEHELKA investigation.

“We arrested Gulab Singh Kutiyal (Kailash alias Gullu) as he tried to pass through the Galati forest check post in Dharchula on the Indo-Nepal border,” said Sambandam. With this arrest wildlife crime control officials have been able to track down several criminal involved in the illegal international wildlife trade. The investigators have recovered a cell phone from Kutiyal which has the phone numbers of several people involved in the international poaching networks

The NWCB investigators and officials from the forest department have corroborated the details published in the TEHELKA investigation. “We have confirmed that Kutiyal is a resident of Dharchula and his network received
Tiger and Leopard skins from the Terai region of Uttarakhand. These were then smuggled to China through the India-Nepal border or transported to Majnu Ka Tila in Delhi for further shipment to international buyers,” said

“The TEHELKA investigation on Tiger poaching has had a terrific impact because it has provided us lot of leads to conduct a massive intelligence led enforcement operation,” said Sambandam. “We have circulated all the
pictures of the poachers revealed by TEHELKA.”Investigating officials are also trying to figure out how Kutiyal was able to get back into the illegal wildlife trade after being arrested earlier in 2005. “Kutiyal was arrested for smuggling Leopard skins. But he was released on bail from the Champawat District Courts in case number 75/2005,” said Sambandam

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