A dangerous tiger poacher who is believed to have killed around 70 endangered big cats has finally been snared after a 20 year hunt in Bangladesh following a tip-off.
Habib “Tiger” Talukder lived in a vast forest region that overlaps the India and Bangladesh border, where he would hunt Bengal tigers but he has now been captured by the authorities.
“Acting on a tip-off, we finally succeeded and sent him to jail,” said local police chief Saidur Rahman.
The Sundarbans mangrove forest where Talukder hunted is home to one of the world’s largest populations of Bengal tigers – an endangered species with only several thousand still remaining.
The cats’ pelts, bones and flesh would be bought by black market traders to sell with plenty of interest in China.
Talukder, 50 was feared locally and had a reputation for fighting tigers but he started out collecting honey from bees in the forest.
“We equally respect him and are scared of him,” local honey hunter Abdus Salam said.
“He’s a dangerous man who could fight alone with Mama (tiger) inside the forest.”
Sharankhola Station Officer Md Abdul Mannan told The Dhaka Tribune that Habib had been listed as a most wanted fugitive by the authorities.
“He secretly entered the Sundarbans and hunted wild animals despite being banned from entering the forest long ago,” he said.
“He has been carrying out these criminal activities even though there are multiple cases against him […] some powerful gangs are involved in this.”
Local media reported that Talukder was arrested on Saturday morning.
Bengal tigers live and hunt in the waters of the mangrove forests, and are adept swimmers.
Bangladesh Forest Department statistics show that the Bengal tiger population fell to a record low of 106 in 2015 from 440 in 2004.
As of 2019, the population had recovered to 114 thanks to a crackdown on poaching in the region.
Regional forest conservation officer Mainuddin Khan said that the news of Talukder’s arrest had brought “sighs of relief”.
“He was a big headache for us. He posed a great threat to the forest’s biodiversity,” he said.