‘Poacher’ Ending Explained: Who Are The Real-Life People Portrayed In The Series?


Poacher, the Amazon Prime Series directed by Richie Mehta, and has Alia Bhatt as one of its producers, begins with the confession of a forest watcher, Aruku. No one was ready to believe him when he first confessed to being part of a poaching gang. After Veerappan, poaching was unheard of, and perhaps it would have been so if, in 2015, Aruku’s conscience had not forced him to admit to his crime. The watcher, who was responsible for protecting the wildlife in the reserved forest area of Malayattoor, was lured by money and free booze to take part in a crime he would eventually regret. Thus began the premise of Poacher, a series based on real events that left the entire country shocked. In this article, we will get into the details of the true story, but before that, let us dig into the ending of Poacher.

Spoiler Alert

What action did the Kerala Forest Department take?

Aruku confessed his involvement with a poaching gang to DFO Adil Sheikh. The gang was led by Raaz, a man who pretended to be inactive and reformed but, in reality, derived sick pleasure from brutally slaughtering animals. Poyya Varghese, another popular name among the poachers, and Ivan Das were part of the gang. Once the forest department began their search for the gang members, all of them went missing. It became quite evident that there were moles in the team, and all those involved in the failed attempt to arrest Raaz were suspended.

Field Director Neel Banerjee was assigned to lead the investigation, and he preferred teaming up with only those he could blindly trust. Neel was diagnosed with lung cancer, but he chose to hide it from his family to focus on the case. He was passionate about saving the ecosystem, and he promised to only rest when the poachers were behind bars. Mala Jogi’s contribution to the attempted arrest of Raaz did not go unnoticed, and she was contacted by Kishore Kumar, the principal chief conservator of forest in Kerala, to join the investigation. Mala had dedicated her life to protecting the wildlife; it was her way of compensating for the damage caused by her late father, a poacher. With a long list of data to analyze, Mala brought Alan on board. Alan was a software engineer with a background in wildlife crimes and was also locally known as the “miracle snakebite doctor” for his in-depth knowledge of the species. Alan used software to analyze the call data records of Aruku. Alan and Mala closely worked with Neel Banerjee, and their sheer determination to find the perpetrators is inspiring.

Who were the gang members?

Morris Finn surrendered himself after DHO Dina dragged his wife to the station. Morris was allegedly involved in several poaching cases, and he was also a popular name in the raw ivory trade. A receipt for 75 kg of ivory sent to an address in Delhi was found on Morris’ phone. He had bought the ivory from Raaz and sold it to a Delhi-based art dealer, Poonam Verma. While Verma was a person of interest, the first order of business was to arrest Raaz. Raaz’s nephew confirmed that he was supposed to return to Kerala by train, but to everyone’s surprise, his body was found hanging from a tree at the Goa-Maharashtra farm he had been hiding at. Raaz was an important piece of the puzzle for the forest department, and his death was a setback. Mala was convinced that it was not a suicide but a murder. Even though there was enough evidence, SHO Rodriguez showed reluctance to conduct an autopsy. Mala shifted her focus to finding Poyya, and she was successful in doing so.

Mala decided to interrogate Poyya all alone, a decision that she later regretted. It was not the first time she met Poyya; he was a seasoned player in the trade. Poyya admitted to the poaching charges, but he claimed to not know the location of the other gang members. Poyya tried to stab himself dead with a nail he found in the interrogation room, but Mala and Vijay managed to stop him. Mala was traumatized after the incident, knowing that he could have attacked her with the nail as well. After Poyya’s arrest, Ivan Das surrendered himself. With the help of Morris’ CDR, Mala and Alan tracked down ex-poacher Sasi Illampally, and he confessed to selling tusks to Morris. He was apprehensive about naming the seller, but under pressure, he finally admitted that politician Prabhas Peradi wanted him to sell the tusks. Sasi could not reject his proposition, fearing that his family would be hurt otherwise. Mala and Alan pulled off the unexpected by kidnapping the local politician. Prabhas admitted that he was not involved in poaching and that he only sold the two tusks that he received from a poaching gang in Munnar. Alan, Mala, and Neel were astonished to find out that there was another gang in the picture.

How Was Poonam Verma Arrested?

Morris’ confession and call records proved his involvement with art dealer Poonam Verma. The Kerala Magistrate was not too impressed with the evidence, but she agreed to grant a warrant for 24 hours, and the condition was that the arrest must be made in Kerala and not Delhi. What seemed to be an impossible challenge turned out to be the bizarre success story of Mala, Alan, and their team. Along with Poonam, Neel also had his eyes on the seller, Ravi Don. Mala and Alan were assigned to nab Poonam, and they traveled to Delhi, where they met SHO Gaurav. The SHO introduced them to constable Sunita, who proved to be of immense help to the team. At 3 a.m., Sunita, Mala, and Alan arrived at Poonam’s lavish Delhi property and lied about their car being involved in an accident. As soon as they entered, Mala accused her of being an ivory dealer, and she outright rejected it. When Mala and Alan entered her workshop, they assumed everything around them was made of ivory, though Alan quickly realized that the sculptures were made of plastic. With barely any evidence in hand, Mala decided to risk herself to convince Poonam to cooperate. She pretended to be on Poonam’s side and offered to help her with a small cut. She managed to make Poonam believe that they needed to show the public that they were taking action, and to do so, they needed to fake some formalities, and since there was no evidence against her, she would be released. Poonam bought into Mala’s lies and agreed to cooperate. 

The Kerala magistrate waived off the transit warrant requirement, but the permission would only remain valid for the next 24 hours. Mala had to immediately fly Poonam to Kerala, and the ivory dealer soon realized that Mala had been lying to her. She faked illness at the airport, and as a result, they missed the flight. Mala managed to bring Poonam Verma to Kochi, but the lack of direct flights resulted in them losing time. With only six minutes left, they managed to reach the magistrate’s house. After going through the documents, the magistrate allowed Mala to keep Poonam in custody.

Neel got hold of Ravi Don as well. The botanist, Nagesh, was temporarily stationed to track every movement at Ravi’s house, and he ended up working as a painter as well to gather information. He informed Neel about a house party that was set to happen next week. Neel, with Ganavi’s help, found out that Ravi would be traveling from Doha to Kochi, and he waited at the airport to welcome him. As soon as Ravi walked into Kochi airport, Neel arrested him for dealing ivory. Nagesh had found ivory in Don’s study room, and there was enough incriminating evidence against him.

What Did The Team Find At Poonam Verma’s Storage Unit?

Poonam Verma repeatedly threatened to destroy the lives of Mala and her team. She warned them that it was nothing but stupidity to disrupt the network involved in arms, drugs, and human trafficking. Through her phone, Alan hacked into her daughter’s email address, which Poonam used to conduct business, and found evidence against her. Afraid of her daughter getting arrested, Poonam decided to cooperate. She confessed that she was not involved in smuggling, but her husband had a small stash of ivory kept safely in a rented flat in East Delhi. Mala and her team headed to Delhi to raid the safehouse. When the keys to the flat did not match Poonam’s description, Neel assumed that someone had provided Poonam with a phone, and she instructed her husband to remove the key (his guess was Abhilasha). Constable Sunita threatened to arrest Poonam’s daughter, Shashi, if Sachin failed to provide the right key. Sachin instructed the caretaker to guide the team to the safe house, and according to Sachin’s description, there was supposed to be only one box of ivory, and it was marked ‘imported.’

The team found the box of raw ivory that Poonam and Sachin had promised, but according to the information Neel gathered from Ravi Don, Poonam smuggled a lot more than a few kilos, and he advised the team to check every box in the room. In the last episode of Poacher, we find out that Neel’s information was correct, and the team found more than 400 kilos of ivory stored in the flat. The raid gathered the attention of the public, and soon, SHO Gaurav came to the team’s rescue. Neel made sure that the news did not reach the public before they transferred everything they had recovered to Kerala. Delhi police helped them deal with the volatile crowd, and Neel and his team safely made it to the airport.

Neel provided a CBI officer, Menon, with the names and details of Indian ivory buyers that he procured from Ravi Don. While the officer appreciated Neel and his team’s effort, he seemed reluctant to work on the case yet. Names of prominent Indian industrialists were on the list, and the officer was not entirely sure how far he would be able to carry out the operation. The buyers were capable of influencing the government, and Neel realized that it was better for them to settle for the success they managed to achieve. Mala was ready to risk her life to find the buyers, but Neel did not think it was a good idea. As much as they had hoped to break the entire cycle, Neel and his team knew that it was only the tip of the iceberg because as long as the buyers ordered ivory, there would be a gang ready to poach and smuggle it.

Poacher‘s ending reveals Alan, Achala, John, Mala, and Vijay taking the same route that the poachers did while hunting for tuskers. Mala was left spellbound when she witnessed a herd of elephants walk up to the carcass of the dead tusker and pay their respects to their old mate. All her struggles seemed insignificant in front of the majestic creature. We can assume that Mala will never give up on advocating for wildlife conservation, and she will do everything in her power to make this world a better place for the voiceless.

Who Are The Real-Life People In the Series?

Poacher is based on a 2015 case that was code-named Operation Shikar. The investigation began when a local forest watcher, Kunjumon Devasey, confessed to helping local poachers slaughter 20 elephants within the span of two years. His confession resulted in the Kerala Forest Department uncovering a multi-gang ivory smuggling racket that left the entire country stunned. Field director Amit Mallick (whose name is changed to Neel Banerjee for the show), the range officer involved in the investigation was Manu Sathyan (Mala Yogi), and the software engineer involved was Jose Louies (Alan Joseph). A 72-person charge sheet was filed after the first phase of the investigation, and over 487 kg of ivory were recovered.

Ivory trader Eagle Rajan and the kingpin of the illegal ivory trade, Umesh Aggrawal, were also apprehended by the police. The character of Poonam Verma in the series perfectly fits the description of real-life Umesh Aggrawal, the owner of “Art of India” company. He was an art dealer who operated from his three-story house in Laxmi Nagar, East Delhi. Along with dealing in various artifacts from India, Aggrawal was involved in the smuggling of ivory abroad. In his exhibitions, he displayed ivory replicas to attract clients and offered them the real deal once they showed interest. Aggrawal had moved hundreds of kilos of ivory to his safe house when he found out about the arrests of his suppliers. 

Poacher provides a detailed insight into the unfolding of an elaborate operation transcending borders. The little trivia is an interesting addition to the series, and it further promotes the importance of wildlife conservation.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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