Foresters put on high alert for poachers ahead of Diwali
The alert was sounded following the recent seizure of animal body parts that are in demand during the festival of lights, wildlife conservationists said. On October 9, four forest dwellers were arrested from the Haridwar forest division with tiger nails and bonesdehradun Updated: Oct 17, 2017 20:59 IST
DEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand forest department has put protected areas and territorial forest divisions in the state on high alert ahead of the Diwali festival by doubling vigilance to thwart poaching, forest officials and conservationists said on Tuesday.
The alert was sounded following the recent seizure of animal body parts that are in demand during the festival of lights, wildlife conservationists said.
On October 9, four forest dwellers were arrested from the Haridwar forest division with tiger nails and bones.Earlier on September 29, the department recovered an owl, canine of musk deer and molars of leopards from Rudraprayag’s Ukhimath.
“It’s time when there’s high demand of species like owl that are used in Diwali puja rituals for which forest dwellers and poachers enter the forest,” said Saket Badola, head of TRAFFIC (Trade Record Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce).
Security within the protected areas has been beefed up in view of the festival, and forest divisions have increased vigil along its boundaries and routine patrolling has been doubled with rotational night duties, said Rajeev Dhiman, Rudraprayag divisional forest officer.
“The territorial forest divisions are prone to poaching during the pre-Diwali period,” he said. “We have already sounded high alert and are carrying out intensive patrolling to secure wildlife.”
A forest guard usually covers a beat area of 10-15 km but when alerts are in place, the numbers of guards are increased to four-five in each beat. Some divisions even equip guards with walkie-talkies, motorcycles and four-wheelers for better mobility and monitoring unauthorized movement within the protected forest divisions, officials said.
Patrolling is doubled in sensitive areas, including the Indo-Nepal and Indo-China borders and forest divisions that shares boundaries with neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, some of them said.
Haridwar and Terai belt are the most sensitive divisions that are prone to poaching. “The movement of people is very high on the border of the Terai and Haridwar forest divisions,” said Abhishekh Kumar at TRAFFIC. “These divisions have a high migratory population, which makes the forests more vulnerable.”.
During high alerts, forest guards are more active, who, apart from discharging regular duties, more vigilant in monitoring movement of people within the forest divisions, said Digvijay Singh Khati, chief wildlife warden. “Though it sounds like a routine exercise, it is one of the most crucial steps for conserving wildlife. We forbid trespassing and intensify checking to avoid any criminal activities.”