Five persons were arrested by the forest mobile squad of the Belagavi division who were running a blackbuck poaching racket.
3 Skins of the Blackbuck have been recovered from the accused.
Based on a tip-off, Seema Garg, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Vigilance), directed the forest officials to probe the matter. A team led by Suresh Teli, Assistant Conservator of Forest, approached the gang in Ranebennur taluka on the pretext of being buyers and clinched a deal for three skins.
The accused upon investigation have said they would draw power illegally and electrocute the blackbucks and kill them. The accused would then take out the skin, horns and meat to sell it to the clients of the priest(kingpin) for ₹5 lakh per skin.
The arrested: Beerappa Nagappa Medleri, 32, the priest at Devaragudda temple, who also runs an ashram. Thyagraj, Gurunath, Tirukapa and Nagappa.
Investigations revealed that Beerappa would lure the rich devotees visiting Devaragudda temple by peddling the belief that possessing blackbuck pelt would bring them a fortune. He also promised to get the skin to them through his contacts. After the deal, he would direct his hunting team to get the skin or horns as per the deal. The horns were being sold to vehicles owners, who would place it as trophies in front of their vehicles.