A poacher suspected of killing a significant proportion of his country's population of wild Bengal tigers is finally in custody, authorities in Bangladesh say. Habib Talukder, 50, is believed to have killed up to 70 endangered tigers over the last 20 years, the BBC reports. The pelts and other body parts were sold to traders and often ended up on the black market in China. Authorities say Talukder operated in the Sundarbans mangove forest on the border between India and Bangladesh, home to a large population of Bengal tigers that declined steeply earlier this century as poaching activity rose.
Talukder dodged several earlier arrest attempts by fleeing to the forest, but he was arrested in a village adjacent to the forest in an early morning raid after a tip-off, authorities say. "He was on the run for a long time," police spokesman Saidur Rahman tells the Dhaka Tribune. Authorities say both police and the nation's Forest Service had him on their most wanted lists. The forestry department says Bangladesh's population of Bengal tigers plummeted from 440 in 2004 to just 105 in 2015, though it rose to 119 in 2019 after a crackdown on poaching. Talukder "was a big headache for us," a forestry official tells AFP. "He posed a great threat to the forest's biodiversity." (Read more tigers stories.)