Amid lockdown, illegal hunting of wild animals spikes in Northeast

A king cobra was killed in Arunachal Pradesh, a leopard in Assam and deer and civet were hunted in Nagaland amid the lockdown
By Utpal Parashar | Hindustan Times, Guwahati
PUBLISHED ON APR 19, 2020 07:12 PM IST
Three men at Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh show off a king cobra they killed on Saturday.(HT PHOTO)

Amid the lockdown across the country to prevent the spread of Covid-19, several incidents of wild animals being killed for food have surfaced in the northeast.

It is not known how those who allegedly killed the wild animals could move around during the lockdown without being intercepted.

A nearly 10-foot long king cobra was killed by residents of a village in Naharlagun area of Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.

Video clips doing rounds on social media showed a person carrying the dead snake wrapped around his neck and body. Another one showed three persons placing the dead snake on banana leaves and getting ready to cut it. .

“Because of the lockdown I felt like eating meat and went to the jungle…. I was hungry. Government officials please don’t get offended, we usually don’t do this,” said an unidentified person in the video.

Senior forest officials in Arunachal Pradesh capital Itanagar confirmed the incident and said that the person who killed the snake and two others shown in the videos have been identified. The trio reportedly ate the snake meat.

“A forest team went to the place to inquire and was able to verify the snake had been killed and consumed. The forest personnel had to retreat as local residents surrounded them. The main accused who is from Kurung Kumey district is absconding,” state deputy chief wildlife warden Umesh Kumar said.

“King cobra is a very rare species listed in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act found in the foothills of forests. Killing it could lead to an imprisonment of up to 5 years or fine of Rs 25,000 or both,” he added.

Chief Minister Pema Khandu told The Arunachal Times that strict action would be taken against those who indulge in illegal hunting of wildlife. He added that instructions have been issued to forest officials to ensure there is no hunting and illegal felling of trees during the lockdown.

In neighbouring Assam, villagers in Golaghat district killed a leopard on Friday and decamped with its flesh, skin, claws, tail and teeth.

“We came to know about the incident after photos of the animal was circulated on WhatsApp. Villagers didn’t help us, but we found traces of flood in a nearby jungle and found the leopard’s carcass buried in a pit,” said Mirel Ahmed, sub-inspector at Golaghat police station.

“The leopard’s two hind legs, skin, tail, claws and teeth were missing. The forest officials have been informed about the incident and they are investigating. No one has been arrested yet,” he added.

Another video clip which surfaced on Sunday shows at least two men killing several deer, one civet and some other animals inside a forest in Nagaland and roasting them on a temporary platform.

The youths are seen saying that they are doing this during the lockdown. Though the exact location is yet to be confirmed, some reports say that it happened inside the Intanki, Nagaland’s lone national park in Peren district.

Deputy Commissioner of Peren, Sentiwapang Aier said that he was not aware of the video or the incident and will have to get it confirmed.

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