It took 20 years to bring in one of Bangladesh’s most elusive poachers.
Habib Talukder, nicknamed “Tiger Habib,” is responsible for killing at least 70 Bengal tigers, the Guardian reports.
According to Saidur Rahman, the local police chief, previous efforts to arrest Talukder had been unsuccessful, as he lived near the Sundarbans mangrove forest area between Bangladesh and India, which he could easily use to hide whenever officials showed up.
“Acting on a tipoff, we finally succeeded and sent him to jail,” Rahman said.
Talukder took rare Bengal tigers from this forest for two decades, selling the pelts, bones and flesh of the animals he slaughtered. Not only did Talukder contribute greatly to the species’ decline, he pushed it perilously close to extinction. According to the Economic Times, the Bengal tiger population fell from 440 in 2004 to 106 in 2015, an all time low. Poaching crackdowns helped bring the poplulation back up to 114 in 2019, but the species is still in danger.
As the Guardian reports, Talukder was once known as a honey hunter, brave enough to steal honey from wild forest bees. His excursions inevitably led to run-ins with forest wildlife, however, including the fierce Bengal tiger. Talukder eventually set his sights on the big cats, finding there was more money to be made in poaching than wild honey.
Talukder told locals that he had killed at least 70 big cats since he first killed a tiger in his mid-20s.
“We equally respect him and are scared of him,” Abdus Salam, another local honey hunter, told the Guardian. “He’s a dangerous man who could fight alone with Mama [tiger] inside the forest.”
Fortunately for the remaining Bengal tigers, Talukder will be behind bars for the foreseeable future. The 50-year-old suspect was sent to jail pending trial after he was arrested, Al Jazeera reports.
“He was a big headache for us. He posed a great threat to the forest’s biodiversity,” said regional forest conservation officer Mainuddin Khan.
Bengal tigers, along with many other big cats, are facing perilous threats. Click below to make a difference.
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