Forest department officials in the Yeoor range on Wednesday arrested a man in Sasupada in Nagla block of the Borivli national park for hunting animals.
Based on a tip-off about the suspicious presence of the accused, Shankar Deo Patil, in Sasupada after sunset for nearly a week, four forest officials closed in on him on Wednesday night. On seeing them, Patil tried to escape from his camp site, but he tripped and was caught. His accomplice, however, managed to escape.
On questioning him, Patil confessed to forest officials that he was camping with the intention of hunting wild animals, and that he had earlier visited the site on June 1. Forest officials recovered a 12-bore double-barrel gun, a high-power torch, a sickle, a coconut, eight live cartridges, a matchbox and a whistle from Patil.
This is the second poaching related arrest made this year. In February, two people were arrested for selling leopard skins near the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
"Local sources had told us about suspicious movement of people in Sasupada. We scheduled our patrolling on Wednesday evening to search for camps set by poachers. As we approached the creek near Sasupada, Patil saw us and started running," said PD Rajpur, divisional forest officer, Yeoor range.
Rajput added that Patil would be charged under the Indian Forest Act, 1927, and Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, for endangering wildlife and for entering a forest area armed with a gun and with the intention of hunting animals.
Patil's offence is non-bailable and he could face a prison term of three years or a fine of Rs25,000 or both.
Forest officials also said that since Patil was operating after sunset, the punishment could be harsher.
According to wildlife activists, small animals such as hare, rabbits, deer and wild boar are frequently hunted for their meat. "Boars and rabbits are common prey as their meat is much sought after. But poaching on any scale should be dealt severely," said Krushna Tiwari, wildlife activist.