Friday, January 20, 2012

Poaching a dangerous trend: Experts

Poaching a dangerous trend: Experts
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

* December 23: Two wildlife lovers from Karnataka and Mumbai detect poaching of 32 lesser flamingos in Venasar village in Maliya-Miyana taluka in Rajkot.
* December 31: In the wee hours, Kodinar police intercept two persons on a bike and seize 11 demoiselle crane carcasses which they had hunted.
* January 4: Forest officials, during investigations, locate heads and legs of 32 more lesser flamingos in the Venasar area taking the toll to 64.
* January 14: A group of customs officers from Delhi visits Venasar village and finds that poachers are still quite active in that region. They find birds snared by poachers. They rescue the birds.
* January 17: Two persons get arrested for a failed attempt to poach demoiselle cranes in Bharda Bhandara near Mul Dwarka in Junagadh.

Experts associated with Wildlife Institute of India and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) feel that these incidents point to a dangerous, new trend of poaching winged visitors in Gujarat. Wildlife experts in the state too feel that the forest department should get to the bottom of the poaching issue to prevent recurrence of these incidents.

Asad Rahamani, director of BNHS said, "This is a new phenomenon. In the past it was people from the villages who protected the birds from poachers. It was this protection which allowed migratory birds to even be spotted inside cities like Porbandar and Jamnagar."

Rahamani added: "There is always a risk involved when such large-scale poaching is taken up. A person wouldn't take the risk unless the monetary benefits are significant."

If the poachers wanted to consume the meat themselves, one or two birds would have been killed. The poaching of 64 lesser flamingos points to a larger racket.
Research scientist Sutirtha Dutta who has been associated with Gujarat for his research since 2007-2011 said: "During my research in Gujarat, we witnessed poaching of animals like rabbits, hyena and even jackal. We never came across incidents of poaching of migratory birds."

Dutta says flamingos do not have a conflict with humans and were hence not poached. They could not be killed on such a large scale just for consumption. "The forest department should track such incidents and if these continue, then they have to deal with it on an urgent basis. Tracking the market of such poachers will help the forest department end these activities."

Veteran birder Lavkumar Kachar and member of the Task Force formed after the 2007 lion poaching incident, said, "It used to be members of scheduled tribes who were involved in such incidents. Earlier, people from the villages kept an eye on such activities because the powerful mahajans believed in jivdaya (compassion for living things). The government has to rope in people and concerned individuals to prevent these incidents occurring in the future."

There is an urgent need to deal with large-scale poaching, say experts

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