The serene greens of Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary may get painted red with blood of wild animals as tribals gear up to observe the annual ritual of animal hunt, Sendra, on April 30.
Official records had put the number of wild animals killed in last year’s Sendra at six — two barking deer, one peacock and three wild boars. The wildlife experts, however, believe the number could be much higher.
With the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) now a part of the ruling UPA government and many of its leaders not opposed to the ruthless killings of the wild animals, the toll is set to escalate this year.
Realising the gravity of the situation, forest department here has prepared a series of programmes to prevent tribals from plundering the forests.
“Since it is a custom strongly linked to the tribal culture and religion, it is difficult to stop the practice. We, however, are trying to reduce the damage to the wildlife during Sendra this year,” Dalbhum DFO A T Mishra said.
Ranger (Wildlife), Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary (DWS), Arjun Badaik informed HT that the department, for the first time, had decided to rope in services of eminent personalities and local celebrities to persuade the tribals restrain from plundering the sanctuary and killing the animals.
“We have prepared a list of eminent personalities, including politicians, theatre artists, musicians, Santhali film artists, social workers and academicians, who would be campaigning for us and spreading awareness on the need for protecting the wild animals. The encouraging part is that most of them have accepted our request for help,” the ranger said.
The department has also sought the help of NGOs having considerable impact on tribals in the area. “The volunteers had launched awareness programmes around three months back in villages across the district. The religious leaders are being consulted and educated on the endangering wildlife species, and also about the need to protect them. We have got satisfactory response so far.”
Sendra actually relives the old community hunting in forests by tribal groups. Home to several endangered species like mouse deer, barking deer, giant squirrels and porcupines, Dalma hill, according to tribal belief, is abode of Dolma Baba.
Devotees have a firm belief that killing the wild animal appeases Dolma Baba, who in return, blesses them with health and prosperity.