Amid Covid-19 lockdown, poaching spikes in western Rajasthan
Among the animals poached is the chinkara, Rajasthan’s state animal and a protected species.
Poaching of wildlife has increased in western Rajasthan during the lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus, forest department officials said Thursday.
Among the wildlife targeted by poachers is Rajasthan’s state animal chinkara. The wildlife flying squad of the Rajasthan forest department has registered six cases of illegal hunting in Jodhpur district in the last one month and arrested six poachers.
The chinkara is a protected animal under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
“Hunting incidents have increased in a month. We were informed of six cases and the accused have been arrested,” said Ashok Panwar, flying squad range officer.
Experts say that due to the lockdown, wildlife in desert areas are moving closer to human habitations due to which there have been more cases of hunting and poaching.
Another forest official who did not want to be named said the police were not able to prevent much of the poaching during the lockdown. Action is being taken only in those cases in which villagers give information. Some cases have also been registered by the territorial wing of the Forest Department and the police, he said.
He said that many people in rural areas rendered unemployed by the lockdown are also hunting wildlife, including chinkara, blackbuck and sandgrouse.
The forest department had registered 15 cases of chinkara poaching in the district of Jodhpur during the year 2019-20 till February. In the last one month the situation has become worrisome.
Dr Hemsingh Gehlot, Assistant Professor in the Zoology department at Jodhpur’s Jai Naraian Vyas University, said hunting cases have increased due to food scarcity. He also said some particular communities in the rural areas are involved in the poaching.
In the last one month, there have been four instances of poaching where chinkaras have been killed, one case of rabbits being poached and one in which sandgrouse were hunted, forest department officials said.