Poacher who evaded police for 20 years and killed about 70 tigers caught in Bangladesh

‘Tiger Habib’ evaded being caught by living close to the forest to facilitate his escape whenever officers raided the area.

MALANG, INDONESIA - JANUARY 20:  Mulan Jamilah, a 6-year-old Bengal tiger walks in the garden on January 20, 2014 in Malang, Indonesia. Abdullah Sholeh, 33, of Malang, Indonesia is an Islamic student who has become best friend and a full-time nanny to the tiger. Mulan's owner,  Noer Muhammad Sholeh, 51, asked Abdullah to take care of the tiger when it was a 3-month-old cub at Dilem Village, Kepanjen District, Malang, East Java. Abdullah Sholeh regularly sleeps, plays and fights with the huge tiger. The pair are so inseparable, he often shuns his own bed to sleep alongside the big cat in her enclosure. Mulan now weighs 178 kg, is three meters long including the tail and one meter high. For security reasons, they have had to install metal bars to separate them when they are together in the enclosure. Mulan is fed 6kg of chicken or goat meat twice a day. (Photo by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images)
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A suspected poacher who is believed to have killed at least 70 endangered Bengal tigers has been arrested in Bangladesh.

Habib Talukder, who had been wanted for 20 years, lived near a mangrove forest and would flee whenever officers raided the area, said local police chief Saidur Rahman.

“Acting on a tip-off, we finally succeeded and sent him to jail,” he said.

Mr Talukder’s hunting ground was the vast Sundarbans mangrove forest region, straddling India and Bangladesh, which has one of the world’s largest populations of Bengal tigers.

The cats’ pelts, bones and flesh would be bought by black-market traders who would sell them on in China and elsewhere.

Mr Talukder, 50, started out collecting honey from bees in the forest and became a local legend for his exploits hunting the big cats and evading arrest.

“We equally respect him and are scared of him,” said local honey hunter Abdus Salam.

“He’s a dangerous man who could fight alone with Mama [tiger] inside the forest.”

Bengal tigers are unique among big cats in being able to live and hunt in the brackish water of the mangrove forests. They are adept swimmers.

Bangladesh Forest Department said the Bengal tiger population fell to a low of 106 in 2015 from 440 in 2004.

As of 2019, the population had increased to 114 thanks to a crackdown on poaching and banditry.

Regional forest conservation officer Mainuddin Khan said 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 told AFP.