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Friday, May 25, 2012

Poachers sneak into Melghat; hunt launched

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | May 24, 2012, 02.21AM IST NAGPUR: The forest department's intensive search following spurt in poaching in the aftermath of a 'red alert' seems to have failed to deter poachers. Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) has launched a massive hunt to nab a gang of poachers that has sneaked into the reserve from Madhya Pradesh. On May 21, the patrolling party found a five-member gang moving in Retwada in Raipur forest range bordering MP. One of the gang members had a 'bharmar' gun while another had a spear, generally used to kill herbivores. Chief conservator of forests (CCF) and field director KP Singh said, "I'm visiting the spot and have also alerted all the three divisions in MTR - Sipna, Akot and Gugamal - following the gang's movement. On May 22, a forest guard patrolling near a waterhole saw the gang and tried to catch hold of one of them but as the poachers were four in number, they managed to escape," he said. Singh said during the scuffle, one of the gang members carrying clothes dropped them at the spot. "We are tracking the gang and have also sealed the areas bordering MP and help of local police and sniffer dogs is being taken. I suspect the gang must be concentrating on herbivores as they have not fired at on the staff yet," Singh said. Principal secretary (forests) Praveen Pardeshi said all the poaching cases in the recent past have been brought to light only by the forest guards and not by NGOs. "This is a good sign. We are not hiding anything. The Palasgaon and Borda tiger poaching cases were detected by our guards," Pardeshi said. "Scrupulous search is leading to more detection of poaching incidents," said Kishor Rithe, member of National Board for Wild Life ( NBWL). He added even as entire forest staff of regular and wildlife department seems to be doing an intensive search, there are more poaching attempts. Deaths of three leopards in FDCM's Surewani area adjoining Mansinghdeo sanctuary near Pench tiger reserve were also brought to notice by regular forest staff. The Tipeshwar tiger escaping a nylon wire trap and a poachers' gang moving in MTR was also detected by the staff. Rithe said the staff is coming across even smallest poaching attempts by villagers due to foot patrolling. Officers are not in a 'denial' mode. This will help the wildlife wing face new challenges, Rithe felt. However, the conservationist said there are still some lapses and shortcoming in some of the forest divisions. Rithe reiterated his demand for a special investigation team (SIT) under chief secretary.

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