Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Poachers kill spotted deer (in Gir Forest)


Poachers kill spotted deer (in Gir Forest)

Indian Express By Sibte Hussain Bukhari

Junagadh, February23 In less than a year, Gir forest is again under serious threat from poachers. A series of incidents of poaching and attacking forest guards inside the sanctuary have surfaced now. On Friday evening, three poachers had killed one spotted dear and attacked two forest guards in the Jawantri area under the Jamwala forest range in Gir west forest division, of whom one was seriously wounded. After the incident, the three tried to flee from the spot, but by Saturday noon, two of them surrendered before the Talala police.

When contacted, deputy conservator of forest (Gir-west) B P Pati confirmed the incident, saying, “Two forest guards heard the sound of gunfire during routine patrolling. They immediately rushed towards the direction of the sound and saw three locals moving around with countrymade guns.”

According to Pati, the forest guards tried to overpower the poachers, but in the process one guard, identified as Bhavesh Bakotra (30) was seriously injured, while another guard identified as A P Dokal was threatened at gunpoint. Later, the three poachers escaped from the scene.

Pati said Dokal immediately informed his superiors about the incident with his cellphone. Forest officials rushed to the spot soon after and hospitalised the injured forest guard, whose condition was reported to be critical at the time of admission. He is now out of danger, though.

Meanwhile, according to a confirmed report, two out of three poachers have surrendered before the Talala police. The duo has been identified as Kalu Jumma Dafer, a resident of Jawantri village, and Abdul Dafer, a resident of Sangodra village. It is significant that Sangodra and Jawantri are both located on the periphery of Gir forest. The police have arrested both the accused.

Bakotra has lodged complaints against the three with the Talala police under Sections 307 (attempt of murder) 186 (preventing government official from performing official duty) and 332 (physically assaulting on-duty government official), of the Indian Penal Code. The three have also been booked under various provision of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 rule 9, 2 and 51.

According to Pati, the killing of wild animals in the forest area is a serious offence, liable to punishment with imprisonment between three to seven years and fine or both.

According to police and forest sources, both Kalu and Abdul have admitted that they have killed a spotted dear, though the carcass is yet to be recovered. A manhunt has also been launched to nab the third poacher while police authorities have grilled the two and their further interrogation is awaited.

"Locals from the Dafer (a Scheduled Tribe) community are involved in this crime. Many from this community are habitual poachers of herbivores, particularly deer or blue-bull. The community members generally take shelter in an isolated area far from human habitat. They are spread throughout Gujarat, but their prime profession is to provide protection to standing crops in the agricultural area," said sources.

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