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01st Jun 2021

Notorious tiger poacher has been caught after 20-year hunt

Danny Jones

Infamous Bengal tiger poacher, Habib Talukder, has been arrested after 20 years on the run

He is suspected of killing 70 Bengal tigers over the past two decades

Bangladeshi police have announced that the infamous tiger poacher, Habib Talukder, has finally been apprehended after a 20-year pursuit. He was nicknamed ‘Tiger Habib’ by authorities.

He is known to have been actively poaching tigers in the area of the Sundarbans mangrove forest – which straddles both India and Bangladesh – for more than two decades and had always managed to flee whenever police closed in on his home next to the forest.

As reported in the Dhaka Tribune, local police chief, Saidur Rahman, said that they managed to arrest Talukder “Acting on a tipoff”, adding, “we finally succeeded and sent him to jail.”

Bengal tigers have been an endangered species since the 1970s and other subs-species like the Bali, Caspian and Javan tiger have all become extinct between 1940 and the 1980s. The cats’ pelts, bones and flesh are all sold on the black market by illegal traders, with big markets in China and elsewhere.

The 50-year-old’s hunting ground is home to one of the world’s largest populations of Bengal tigers, of which there are only thought to be around 2,000 left in the world – a far cry away from the 100,000 at the start of the 20th century.

Talukder seems to have created a legend of his own through his illegal animal poaching, as it is said that locals “equally respect him and are scared of him”, according to honey hunter, Abdus Salam. This is the profession Talukder started in apparently, working his way up until he became known as “a dangerous man who could fight alone with [tigers] inside the forest.”

According to the Bangladesh forest department, the Bengal tiger population fell from 440 in 2004 to a record low of 106 in 2015. Truly shocking statistics. While the numbers had increased slightly to 114 following a crackdown on poaching and banditry in the region, they are still a highly endangered species.

Mainuddin Khan – a regional forest conservation officer – said the news brought “sighs of relief”, describing ‘Tiger Habib’ as “a big headache” who “posed a great threat to the forest’s biodiversity”.