State forest dept on tenterhooks as poachers prowl Gir, Girnar forests
Indian Express By Sibte Hussain Bukhari
Junagadh, January 13 Forest officials have sounded an alert in and around the entire Gir and Girnar forests in Junagadh and other reserved forest and protected areas falling inside the revenue area in Saurashtra following reports that a Pardi poachers’ gang has entered Gujarat.
The Madhya Pradesh based Pardi tribe, who are infamous as poachers, are mainly involved in selling of leopard’s hide. They generally enter any place as agriculture labourers.
According to sources, members of the poachers’ gang have sneaked into this region, putting the forest department on tenterhooks. An intensified drive to nab these gang members has now been initiated in the revenue areas surrounding the forest in Junagadh district. More than 150 leopards have been sheltering in the revenue areas falling under Una, Kodinar, Sutrapada and Talala taluka, sources added.
When contacted, B P Pati, deputy conservator of forest (Gir west), who is also holding additional charge of Girnar range, said, “A search operations to nab members of the gang has been initiated. Alerts have been sounded in the forest areas. The forest staffs have been ordered to maintain extra vigil in their respective areas”.
He said they were keeping a keen eye on inter-state labourers working particularly in the sugarcane fields falling on the periphery of various forest areas. Labourers’ huts, guesthouses, hotels and roadside dhabas have also been screened. Villagers have been asked to provide information about any suspicious movement, Pati said.
According to sources, many NGOs and volunteers have also been pressed into service to nab the culprits.
Dinesh Goswami, president of Kodinar-based NGO, Prakriti Parivar Trust, said, “Prakriti Parivar’s members have joined in the search operations. Hotels and guesthouses have been checked in Una and Kodinar towns. Besides, close vigil has also been kept in villages and dhabas located on Una-Kodinar-Diu roads.”
Sources said alert messages have been sounded to all concerned persons, NGOs, wild life wardens and people involved or interested in conservation and protection of forests and wild life. “People have been alerted mainly on the coastal belt between Porbander and Una town. The ‘Pargi gang’ is said to have sneaked into this area,” the sources said.