Forest Department officials have seized a tiger skin from an engineering college student and his friend when they were about to deliver it to a Karumathampatti resident on Saturday morning.
According to the sources, a team of officials led by Forest Ranger R. Karunamoorthy who were there to review the progress of a sapling plantation programme, noticed two youth getting off a motorcycle with a bag. When the Department officials encountered the two, the rider and pillion rider identified themselves as Vignesh Kumar (21), engineering student, and Radhakrishnan (29).
When the officials checked the bag, they found a tiger skin. The two then told the officials that they were there to give the skin to Manisekar (50), for Rs. 15 lakh as agreed earlier.
On further interrogation, the two had told the officials that after reaching an understanding with Manisekar, whom they met at a restaurant they frequent, they stole the hide from a mutt in Karnataka, smuggled it into Tamil Nadu and had planned to give it to Manisekar.
The officials took the two into custody and also Manisekar, who then confessed to the plot saying that he had planned to sell it to one of his contacts who wanted it for religious purposes. They also took into custody Vignesh Kumar’s friend Thiru Vignesh (21), who also had a hand in the smuggling of the skin.
The officials said that they had seized the hide and invoked provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act to arrest the two as it was a non-bailable offence. After completion of formalities, the officials had planned to either destroy the hide or send it to the Vandalur Zoo.