HYDERABAD: The state forest department has listed 351 habitual smugglers and 80 poachers, and handed over their details to the police department for surveillance. It has been decided to book suspects facing multiple cases of wildlife offenses under the PD Act.
Following the tiger poaching incident, director general of police, M Mahender Reddy, wrote to all district superintendents of police asking them to assist foresters in curbing smuggling.
Principal chief conservator of forest (IT), P Raghuveer, told TOI: “Most poachers are traditional hunters who lay snares in the forest and kill animals. They supply meat of monitor lizards and wild birds to dhabas on highways and also sell them at weekly markets. Teakwood and timber smugglers have been identified. We have listed 37 sawmills, which are suspected of being involved in buying smuggled timber.” Raghuveer said. There are no national or international smugglers or a poacher network operating in the state.
The forest chief said, “We have to put the fear of law in the minds of smugglers. The PD Act, which will be used against offenders, will ensure they do not get bail for one year after the arrest. Regarding weapons to be given to forest officials, he said that while police move in groups, forest officials are lone rangers. It is difficult to protect the weapon. Police usually deposit weapon at the police station. But for foresters, it is difficult to deposit and maintain their weapons.”
As per the statistics of the state forest department, smuggling cases decreased in 2018 as compared to 2017 with an average of 30 cases being booked every day this year. However, the total value of produce seized increased as compared to the previous year. “In 2018, we booked 10,948 cases, of which in 9,025 cases, the offenders were identified while in the rest 923, only vehicles were seized,” Raghuveer said.
Nilgai poaching: 2 forest officers held
Two forest officials were arrested in connection with nilgai poaching case in Pembi range of Kawal Tiger Reserve in Nirmal district. The accused were identified as MA Rasheed, a section officer, and Vasanth, a forest beat officer. The arrests followed complaint lodged by the forest department. The key accused, deputy range officer Mohammed Hafeezuddin, is still on the run.