The Uttarakhand Forest Department has acknowledged the presence of various gangs of poachers in the Corbett National Park while stressing that vigilance of the department has prevented the poachers from carrying out their tasks so far.
However, wildlife organisations complain that it is illogical to State that poachers are being monitored and prevented from poaching, but not being apprehended.
They state that had the forest department taken cognisance of the intelligence provided by the organisations on movement of poachers, the present situation would not have been reached in Corbett.
The chief conservator of forest (Wildlife) Administration and Intelligence, and director of the Anti-Poaching Cell, SK Dutt, said that the department is investigating the presence of poachers in Corbett.
“We know that Bawaria gangs from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana have taken up different territories here. However, our vigilance in coordination with the Nainital police has prevented poachers from carrying out their activities. Four poachers have been arrested in the recent past. We are using video footage and other evidence-products like sweet packets and beedi bundles recovered from poachers’ camps in our investigation,” he added. The southern boundary of Corbett which borders Uttar Pradesh still remains the most sensitive area of the national park, said Dutt.
However, People For Animals, Uttarakhand, member secretary Gauri Maulekhi who had first informed the National Tiger Conservation Authority about these gangs in Corbett, said, “It is very juvenile to say poachers are present, but not poaching. To assume this, one would need 24 hour surveillance, after which there would be cause to arrest these poachers. Even intrusion, carrying fire arms or traps in protected forests are offences. The department’s stance of only monitoring poachers is questionable,” she said. for which the forest department could have arrested these poachers. Since no arrests have been made since the initial arrests, The department’s stance of only monitoring poachers is questionable,” she said.
Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) Uttarakhand in-charge Rajendra Agrawal said that the WPSI had been providing information about the movements of Bawarias and other poachers to the department for the past five years. “Even though we provided correct intelligence the department often told us that our information was incorrect and didn’t act on it. The present state in Corbett could have been prevented if the authorities had acted on our inputs,” he said.
Src: Daily pioneer