Wildlife trafficking & alleged criminal genius
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2010:
(Actual press date November 3.)
NEW DELHI–The Supreme Court of India on October 20, 2010
upheld the conviction of wildlife poacher and trafficker Sansar Chand
for possession of leopard skins.
Chand has been the most notorious poacher and trafficker in
India–and perhaps the world, rivaled only by international reptile
dealer Anson Wong, the so-called “Lizard King,” on trial in Malaysia
as the October 2010 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE went to press. The
tabloid notoriety of both Chand and Wong has ascended since the
October 2004 death of Koose Munisamy Veerappan in a shootout with a
Tamil Nadu special task force sent to try to take him prisoner.
In addition to prolifically killing wildlife, Veerappan
reputedly killed or ordered the killing of as many as 130 people, 80
of them to get rid of witnesses. Chand, exhibiting a very different
personal style, is best known for manipulating the Indian legal
First charged with poaching tigers and leopards in 1974, at
age 16, Chand was in August 2010 sentenced to serve six years in
prison on charges originally filed in Rajasthan in 1995. Wanted for
poaching in connection with 57 cases in nine states, Chand was
sentenced to five years in prison in 2004, but was released on bail
three months later and disappeared. He reputedly took vengeance by
poaching the last tigers at the Sariska tiger reserve, among the
oldest and most renowned in India.
The Supreme Court of India suspended the 2004 sentence in
September 2009. In 2008, meanwhile, Chand won dismissal of another
set of charges of possession of 28 leopard skins and two tiger skins,
first filed in 1992.
In contrast to Chand’s elusiveness, Delhi police on October
27, 2010 arrested a man named Harmohinder in the act of trying to
sell ivory jewelry to People for Animals founder Maneka Gandhi at her
home, a local landmark which also houses the PfA national offices.
“According to the complaint,” reported The Hindu, “he contacted
Mrs. Gandhi and offered her the jewelry at half price.”
“Isn’t it extraordinary!” e-mailed Mrs. Gandhi to ANIMAL
PEOPLE. “The truth is that it was a sting. My investigators lured
him to sell his ivory to a ‘rich lady’ and then they had me speak to
him on the phone and I invited him home.
“The man in the excitement of making such a large sale did
not notice my huge nameplate, the police at the gate, the police
inside, and of course my face. When he was on his way, I rang up
the Deputy Commissioner of Police, who was incredulous and thought I