Bhopal: Yarlen, one of the most notorious poachers of tigers and sloth bears, is finally in custody again after absconding for six years. While much is heard about his weird liking for penises of sloth bears, foresters say that was just incidental in the chain of crimes. It is a common belief among the tribes in the region that male organs of the bears are a great aphrodisiac.
It took about almost a dozen failures before the Forest Department's Special Task Force (STF) could lay their hands on Jasrat alias Yarlen alias Luzalen, one of India's most notorious tiger poachers, on October 19.
The poachers kill the sloth bear to sell off its gall bladder and bile which has a much higher demand in the international market as some people believe cures cancer, chronic pain and asthma, says Nitesh Sirothia, the chief of MP wildlife STF. However, none of these claims have been proven.
Yarlen was well known among forest rangers owing to the nature of his deeds. He was the first target of the MP STF-Wildlife at the time of its formation by the Forest Department. He came on the STF's radar after rangers found several carcasses of sloth bears with their private parts missing.
According to a report, a hunt was launched for Yarlen and rumour had it that he killed the bears to be able to eat their reproductive organs.
Yarlen was wanted for two cases of sloth bear killing and one case of tiger poaching in Madhya Pradesh and three other cases of tiger poaching in Maharashtra, said Sirothia. He was caught early in 2014.
After his first arrest in the Meghat poaching case, he was let off on bail by the High Court in Maharashtra because the quantum of punishment was much less in those cases ï¿½ just seven years.
Once on bail he gave authorities the slip and vanished into Gujarat. The STF tracked him to a small hamlet on the the Vadodara highway in Gujarat, said Sirothia.
Among other things recovered from his possession were a number of Aadhaar cards and three fake voter IDs. The poacher also told officers with the STF as to how he managed to evade the law all these years. He moved from village to village and managed to avoid suspicion by bribing the sarpanches of those villages with wild boars he hunted for them.
The poacher also told STF officials that he has been hunting wild animals since he was 15 years old.
He admitted to killing a number of tigers and sloth bears along with peacocks and wild boars. Yarlen was a major supplier in the international black market. However, investigators are still trying to establish his supply line beyond Delhi or across the border. He even hunted a number of wild animals for businessmen.
With Yarlen's arrest, the STF has also solved the mystery of tigress T13's death. Last seen on trap camera in Raikassa area of Pench in February 2012, the tigress' skin was found in Nepal a year later.
During interrogation, Yarlen has confessed to killing tigress T13 in Pench Reserve. Nepalese poacher Lodu Dime was arrested at Kathmandu airport in connection with the case. Now, STF-Wildlife has initiated talks with Interpol and Nepal police seeking Dime's extradition for T13's poaching.
First arrested in 2014 along with his uncle, Yarlen is likely to be charged with multiple violations of the Wildlife Protection Act. Not just tigers but sloth bears are also protected under Indian laws as they are listed as 'vulnerable species' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).