Six people were arrested from separate places in Chhattisgarh's Bilaspur district for allegedly killing spotted deer in Achanakmar Tiger Reserve, forest officials said on Monday.
The carcass of a chital, also known as spotted deer, and 35 kg meat of the animal were also recovered from their possession, they said.
Forest officials recently got a tip-off that some poachers had laid an electric wire trap near Shivtarai village, located in the buffer zone of tiger reserve, to kill the spotted deer for its meat ahead of the Holi festival.
Acting on the information, the forest department intensified patrolling in the area on Saturday night, the tiger reserve's deputy director, Satyadev Sharma, said.
While cordoning off the area, the forest personnel on Sunday intercepted two motorcycle-borne men -- Vivek Nelson (29) and Mexon George (35) -- and arrested them after 10 kg of chital meat was recovered from their possession, he said.
Based on their statements, raids were conducted at the houses of Shivtarai's former sarpanch Santosh Porte and two other village residents Suresh Uraon and Budhram (30), the official said.
During the raids, 25 kg of chital meat and a sharp-edged weapon were seized from the house of Porte while bows, arrows, steel cable and clutch wire were recovered from the Budhram's home, he said.
"Later, another accused Bhuvneshwar Porte (45) was also arrested. He had laid an electric wire trap for about 7 km in the forest in which a chital got trapped and died," Mr Sharma said, adding the carcass was recovered from the spot.
The investigation further revealed that one Hasrat Khan of Bilaspur had allegedly killed a chital with a 0.22 bore gun with the support of Santosh Porte, Nelson and George, he said.
Apart from Nelson, George, Budhram and Bhuvneshwar Porte, two more persons, identified as Asaram (27) and Raghunath (45), were held in this connection on Sunday.
Three other accused- Hasrat Khan, Santosh Porte and Suresh Uraon - are still at large, the official said.
The accused have been charged under relevant provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, he said.
The samples of meat recovered from the accused will be sent to the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun to ascertain whether it is of one deer or more, he added.