Fugitive tiger poacher tracked to his lair

Sariska National Park, in the north-western state of Rajasthan, became the focus of international alarm after it emerged this year that the last tiger had gone. Environmentalists are warning that India's tiger population may be far lower than the authorities admit, and the tiger may be on the verge of extinction.

Officially, the world's tiger population is between 5,000 and 7,000, with India accounting for 60 per cent. But environmentalists say the real number is closer to 3,000, with much of the Indian population destroyed by poaching that has been covered up by corrupt forestry officials.

Chand has long been considered a kingpin of the illegal skins trade. He is wanted in nine Indian states in at least 57 cases of poaching and smuggling of animal skins.

He was sentenced to five years in prison in 2004, but was released on bail three months later and promptly disappeared.

"We have enough evidence to link Sansar Chand to the tiger poaching cases in Sariska," the director of India's Central Bureau of Investigation, U S Mishra, said earlier this month. During the last two years, all 10 of Sariska's tigers disappeared.

It was the Sariska debacle that finally forced the Indian government to take seriously repeated warnings from conservationists that the country's tiger population was in grave peril from poachers and that the country's tiger conservation scheme, Project Tiger, vaunted around the world as a model, was in fact breaking down.

Now that Chand has been linked to this case, there is little chance of him escaping so easily a second time. His grandfather was what is known in India as a "tribal" - a member of one of the aboriginal groups, many of whom still live highly traditional lives in India's jungles. Hunting was the family business.

The contraband trade in skins, particularly tiger skins, is extremely lucrative - one skin can fetch £10,000 - and it propelled Chand into the lifestyle of a wealthy gangster. He routinely made court appearances in cheap clothing in an effort to convince judges he was hard up, but when he was interviewed on Indian television he appeared in designer clothing.

His childhood was poor: his father could not afford to keep his sons in school, and Chand started poaching big game at an early age. By 1974, at the age of 16, he was in custody in a case involving tiger and leopard skins, and 676 other wild animal skins.

It has remained a family business: a brother, uncle and brother-in-law have all been named in poaching and skin-smuggling cases. Chand's first wife and son are both on trial in Rajasthan for wildlife crimes.

Indian police say the manhunt for Chand lasted several months. Undercover police disguised as milkmen and tea sellers kept a vigil outside his home in Delhi, and officers even posed as air-conditioning repairmen in an effort to get inside.

But it turned out that Chand had gone to ground in a different neighbourhood, a sleepy residential area where he rented a flat.

Police finally managed to track him down because they knew he read newspapers from his native Rajasthan, for which there is little demand in the capital. Because of the papers' scarcity, police were able to question newsagents and find their man.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
voicesBy the man who has
people... and stop them from attacking people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?