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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

'Gory wildlife killing rampant across state'

By Paul Fernandes, TNN | Jan 29, 2013, 04.43 AM IST PANAJI: The trapping of eight big cats in cable wire traps meant for smaller wildlife in about three years has once again brought into focus the low profile form of poaching prevalent outside protected areas in Goa. The forest department officials extricated a relatively unharmed leopard from a cable snare at Shiroda on January 24. "The noose of the trap snapped below the leopard's belly and did not tighten around it," said D N Carvalho, deputy conservator of forests, North Goa (wildlife and eco-tourism). Other big cats had been rescued in the recent past with some injuries while one died at Bondla after being rescued. In all, two leopards each in Pale and Borim, and one each in Shiroda, Nirancal and Maulinguem were freed from the wire traps. A tiger was shot dead after being trapped in Keri in Ferbuary 27, 2009. The spate of leopard cases reveals that the malaise of the gory killing of wildlife is rampant all over the state. But activists say that traps made of scooter, rickshaw, telephone and even cycle cables are being used in all parts of the state, especially forest patches and hilly areas near urbanized villages. "Dogs have been found ensnared in cable traps in places nearer to the coast as Siolim and Socorro and other places," an animal lover said. Agreed Arnold Noronha, president of a wildlife NGO, Chameleon, "Use of cable wire traps is very common," he said. But activists say the gravity of the threat is not realized as it happens in less frequented pockets of forest areas. "It comes to the department's notice only when leopards are trapped and left to die, but wild boar and porcupines may be quietly killed and consumed," a forest department official admitted. The officials find it easier to contain poaching inside wildlife sanctuary limits, but find forest areas beyond too vast for patrolling. "The irony lies in the fact that none of these poachers are found," the official said. Forest officials say many use cable snares against crop damage. "It is a revenge killing in some areas, but not always," an official said. Agreed Noronha, "If leopards were the poachers game, they would have shot them. This shows the villagers are mostly interested in meat," he said. Sources said Paresh Porob, range forest officer of Mhadei wildlife sanctuary, has issued notices to restaurants around the protected area, urging them to refrain from stocking and selling wild meat. Activists call for social awareness to curb the threat to wildlife. "A proper study is needed to gauge the damage caused by such poaching and awareness is a must to curb it," Noronha said.

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