Photograph by Jonathan Irish, Nat Geo Image Collection
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A police officer in India was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a gang suspected of poaching barasingha, or swamp deer, which are considered vulnerable. 

Photograph by Jonathan Irish, Nat Geo Image Collection

Law Enforcement Officer Fatally Shot By Suspected Poacher

In this week’s crime blotter: a bust gone wrong, a butterfly smuggling ring, and a scooter pangolin heist.

Anant Kumar Yadav and three other police officers in Uttarakhand, a state in northern India, received a tip about an illegal wildlife sale. When the police arrived on the scene on the night of April 6, The Times of India reports, they found three men—supposedly waiting for clients—with a leopard skin and the antlers of a swamp deer.

While the suspects were being questioned, two people hidden in the jungle pelted stones at the cops. In the ensuing fray, a man shot Yadav, who was later pronounced dead. His colleagues seized the wildlife parts before the five men fled.

According to his fellow officers, Yadav was “an expert in cracking the network of liquor, drug mafia, and animal poachers.”

Some other wildlife crime busts and convictions around the world announced this past week:

BUTTERFLY BLUES: Chinese customs officials intercepted about 2,800 butterfly specimens smuggled into the country from Malaysia and Indonesia, according to South China Morning Post. Law enforcement officers arrested four people suspected of belonging to a cross-border smuggling ring. The specimens included 1,180 rare butterflies and 261 endangered species.

IVORY INTERCEPTORS: Officers at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, in Nairobi, Kenya, arrested two Chinese nationals suspected of trafficking ivory and pangolin scales, according to The Star. The duo—who possessed two pieces of raw ivory, an ivory bangle and comb, and a pound of pangolin scales—were headed to Guangzou, China. This bust comes three days after authorities at the airport nabbed three men en route to China with ivory bangles and necklaces made from lion teeth.

POISONED TIGERS: Park management in Madhya Pradesh, a state in central India, apprehended three men in connection with the poisoning of a tiger and her two cubs, the Hindustan Times reports. Authorities suspect that the villagers poisoned a spotted deer so the tigers would eat it and die.

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Green tree pythons are becoming increasingly popular in the pet trade.

SNAKES IN BAGS: Officials at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, in Jakarta, Indonesia, nabbed two Malaysian men for allegedly smuggling 23 reptiles and amphibians, announced TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring organization. The men had planned to fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They had seven pythons—including threatened green tree pythons—seven lizards, and nine frogs hidden in their bags.

TUSK TAKERS: Thai officials at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, in Bangkok, Thailand, confiscated nearly 700 pounds of African elephant tusks worth about $800,000, the Associated Press says. The ivory had come from Mozambique, and a Kenyan man was supposedly due to pick up the parcels. Police believe he fled the country after learning that the illicit material had been seized.

SCOOTERED PANGOLINS: Border officials arrested a suspected smuggler carrying seven pangolins on his scooter, says Britain’s the Mirror. In footage documenting the dramatic capture, the suspect is seen abandoning his scooter and running away before he’s caught. Pangolins are believed to be the most trafficked mammals in the world.

ABALONE BUST: Police in Cape Town, South Africa, seized 50 boxes of abalone from a bus bound for Pretoria, Eyewitness News reports. “There will definitely be an arrest following this,” said safety official J.P. Smith, according to the publication. “We know that there was an exchange of poached marine goods for drugs and now one must wonder how many drugs and possibly firearms have been smuggled back on these buses into Cape Town.”

This story was produced by National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on wildlife crime and is made possible by grants from the BAND Foundation and the Woodtiger Fund. Read more stories from the SIU on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback, and story ideas to