Poacher: Are Raaz, Poyya, and Ivan Das Inspired by Actual Poachers?

The opening sequence of Prime Video’s crime drama series ‘Poacher’ introduces a forest watcher reporting the activities of poachers named Raaz, Poyya, and Ivan Das, who allegedly hunted 18 elephants in the region over two years. As the narrative progresses, an intense investigation ensues, leading to the apprehension of various dealers and middlemen while depicting the complexities and challenges faced in real-life efforts to combat wildlife crimes. Since the series draws inspiration from real events, the viewers can’t be blamed for being curious about the real-life counterparts of the poachers!

Raaz, Poyya, and Ivan Das Are Based on Real Poachers

The characters of Raaz, Poyya, and Ivan Das in ‘Poacher’ are based on real-life poachers Ikarra Vasu AKA “Vadattupara Veerappan,” Aandikunju AKA Jijo, and Puthanpurakkal Eldoe/Eldos respectively. Vasu hailed from Kuttampuzha and had a history of wildlife exploitation since a young age. His involvement in elephant poaching began in the 1990s when he connected with a dealer named Aji Bright. Accumulating significant earnings, Vasu became one of the notorious poachers in the region.

While describing Vasu, a forest officer said, “He was ruthless, known for his sharpshooting skills. Vasu was also the pointsperson for ivory dealers. Our investigations revealed that he was offered advances for operations, money was even wire-transferred to his accounts.”

As investigations intensified, Vasu’s involvement in the murder of approximately 20 elephants came to light. Subsequently, as law enforcement closed in on his whereabouts, Vasu was discovered dead in a farmhouse in Dodamarg, Maharashtra. He was found hanging from the ceiling and the cause of his death was ruled a suicide. The Mumbai police insisted that a suicide note was found from the side but the Kerala forest officials believed that it was highly unlikely that such an important player in the ivory trade would die under such mysterious circumstances.

The police believed that more could be uncovered if Vasu had been caught alive. They claimed that even though local poachers did not know much about the larger network that existed, Vasu was an exception and was a major player in the game and many had motives to kill him. Like Vasu, Raaz too is found dead in an estate in the crime drama and the death creates a roadblock in the investigation of the poaching case.

Aandikunju, also known as Jijo, was apprehended in Kasargod in July 2015 from a bus stand area. He had been evading authorities by staying in Dakshina Kannada, in the state of Karnataka, since the commencement of the investigation, regularly moving to Kasargod for a new hiding place. The whistleblower had also alleged that Aandikunju had killed a baby elephant “just for fun.” The police knew that he worked as a bodyguard for Vasu.

Acting on a tip-off, the police apprehended Aandikunju before he could elude capture. Following his arrest, he attempted to end his life by stabbing himself with a knife when forest officials cornered him. Since the self-inflicted injury was not severe, prompt medical assistance facilitated a quick recovery. In the series, one can identify Poyya as Aandikunju, as his capture and subsequent attempt to harm himself mirror the real events.

As Ivan Das surrenders to the authorities, the series doesn’t delve into the intricate reasons for his change of heart. In reality, a poacher named Puthanpurakkal Eldos also surrendered before the Kothamangalam Judicial First Class Magistrate (JFMC) in July 2015, slightly before the arrest of Aandikunju. He was believed to be involved in the removal and transport of the tusks for Vasu.

The arrests of the three poachers provided officials with significant momentum in the case. Through their statements, phone records, and supporting details, the investigators were able to trace connections leading to Umesh Agarwal and Eagle Rajan, who were identified as the key figures involved in the illicit ivory trade. ‘Poacher’ effectively portrays the domino effect of arrests and revelations that unfolded during real-life investigations, highlighting the interconnected network of individuals who were a part of the illegal trade.

Read More: Poacher: Is Ravi Don Inspired by a Real Ivory Dealer? Where is He Now?