Suspected Tiger Poachers Killed In India

Six suspected tiger poachers were killed during a gunfight that happened on Sunday. Police said that the six suspected poachers were thought to be trafficking in illegal skins.

Police in Koyra Upazila said the suspected poachers were killed in the Sunderbans nature area, which is home to a number of endangered animals, including tigers. The area is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Habibur Rahman, a police superintendent, said that seven men were arrested, and during a raid earlier on Sunday, officers recovered three Bengal tiger skins, according to LA Times.

Rahman said that authorities, as well as the suspected tiger poachers, were making their way back to the area to recover more skins. He said that was when associates of the suspected poachers started to shoot at them. Six of the seven suspects were caught in the line of fire, and they were killed as a result.

The Hindu reported that five police officers suffered injuries during the gunfight. Aside from the tiger hide, three pistols were also recovered from the scene.

The Sundarbans in southeast Bangladesh is where the Bengal tiger can be found, and Sunday’s shootout comes after a recent survey that revealed that just over 100 Bengal tigers were living in the area. Just 10 years ago, there were 440 animals recorded, according to BBC.

Some experts say that the numbers have dropped due to surveying methods that are more accurate. However, some say that poachers have also been a reason behind the slump in numbers.

As for how many Bengal tigers are left in the wild, there are no more than 2,400. The Bengal tiger can also be found in China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar.

India has been known to have problems with tiger poachers in the past. As a matter of fact, a few years ago, a state in western India made it legal for forest guards to shoot tiger poachers on site, as previously reported by the Inquisitr. The state that made it legal to shoot tiger poachers was Maharashtra, and the state made it legal in an effort to stem the reduction of the tiger population.

At that time, the Maharashtra government said that killing suspected tiger poachers or injuring them would no longer be considered a crime in the state. The government also said that it planned on sending more rangers and jeeps into the forest, and they were going to offer payments to informers in exchange for tips about poachers, as well as animal smugglers.

[Photo via Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images]