Residents of Thane filmed an unidentified man shooting birds from a boat at Ambe Ghosale lake on Friday afternoon. The man killed two Indian Cormorants, a species protected under schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
The police have registered a case against an unknown man.
Residents telephoned wildlife conservationists around 2.30pm after noticing the poacher. They started taking videos of the man who realised that he was being filmed and ran into the watchman’s cabin. He left his gun behind, and the carcasses of the birds and fled the spot.
Wildlife activists found an air gun, pellets and the carcasses of two Indian Cormorants. The birds were taken to Thane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA) where an autopsy was conducted.
“Even though there were guards at the spot, the accused managed to take a gun into the lake. After he shot the birds and realised he was being filmed, he managed to escape but left behind the gun, pellets and dead birds in cabin of the watchman, who was sleeping inside,” said Yaman Tatrem, wildlife activist from NGO Animals and Plants Welfare Trust, Kurla, who attended the distress call along with activist Amey Malegaonkar.
The activists informed the local police and forest department about the incident. Officials from the Rabodi police station said that they had filed an offence case but will be filing a first-information-report (FIR) after inspecting the post-mortem report. “When we reached the lake, the accused had fled but after interrogating the watchman, we got his basic details. An investigation is being carried out and we will trace the accused soon,” said a duty officer from the station.
This is third incident in three months where birds have been shot. Two flamingos were rescued by four teenage bird watchers at Mahul creek in Chembur on January 22. Both birds died due to the severe bullet wounds. Two other flamingoes were found injured with pellet wounds on January 13 and 14 at Thane and Vikhroli, respectively. While one succumbed to its injuries on January 24, the other bird lost its life the next day.
Forest department officials said that they will increase patrolling along wetlands and lakes to stop the recurring cases. “We were informed about the incident on Friday evening. Along with our range forest officers, we will be carrying out an independent enquiry into the matter. We will also be sharing a list of guidelines with residents to inform the forest department in such cases,” said Kishore Thakre, deputy conservator of forest, Thane.
Wildlife activists were irked with the growing number of bird kills in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. “We appreciate the citizens who actively participate in reporting such crimes. While the forest department is understaffed and cannot act early in such situations, there needs to be a proper protocol to nab offenders in such matters,” said Pawan Sharma, president, Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW). “We will be writing to the forest department to find out the culprit and also ensure such things do not happen in future.”