Centre warns of poachers in Gir
THE TIMES OF INDAI
AHMEDABAD: The Wildlife Crime Cell (WCC) of the Union ministry of environment has sent an alert to the Gujarat government warning of poachers camping in villages of Amreli and Bhavnagar districts, around Gir sanctuary.
The WCC has also supplied photographs of suspected poachers to the state forest department. Local panchayat officials and forest range officers are on their toes, keeping in mind the 2007 incident when members of Pardhi tribe had poached eight Asiatic lions. A special team led by CID (crime) had then arrested 35 members of the tribe.
Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), G K Sinha, confirmed the information. "We have received a specific alert with photographs of suspects, who may be part of a poaching gang," said Sinha, adding, "The alert was received last week. Our surveillance has been intensified."
"We have issued an alert about poachers to all officers involved in surveillance of lions," said chief conservator of forest A P Singh.
A sarpanch of a nearby village told TOI, "We have been asked to maintain a register of labourers coming from outside Gujarat."
In the 2007 incident, most poachers who were arrested belonged to Panna and Katni districts of MP, and Itarsi in Uttar Pradesh.
Today, there are 523 lions living across southern Gujarat according to the May 2015 lion census. Of these, 163 live outside the Gir sancturay limits.
Last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had warned of increasing poaching risks of lions in Gujarat, and risk of illegal trade in their body parts, as the lion population outside sanctuary areas has increased by 400% in two decades.