Investigations have revealed that the need for a packet of salt and a small bag of rice can fuel the killing of a tiger in the forests of Arunachal Pradesh, bordering China.
Locals say the lack of infrastructure in the state leads to scarcity of food, forcing poverty-hit tribals to target wildlife and sell illegal animal products.
“With little food to eat, villagers depend on tree barks to make ‘tussey’, an indigenous porridge,” said Tagru Tame of Pipsorang village in Kurung Kumey district. “Even money cannot buy anything in the region. So, the easiest option is to seek help from the Chinese, who look for animal products to fuel Asian markets.”
“Hundreds of endangered animals are killed in the thick jungles just to eke out a living,” said Noory Noshi of Limeking village located 50 km from the International Line of Control. “Poverty-stricken tribals sell the animal skin to Chinese traders. In exchange, they get about 5 kg of rice and a kilo of salt.”