Poaching at National Park in Mumbai: Accused confesses to hunting birds
Bhowar was produced before a Thane court on Tuesday and remanded to the forest department’s custody till January 17Updated: Jan 16, 2019 01:08 IST
A day after Sushant Dashrath Bhowar was taken into custody for poaching in and around Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), he confessed to hunting two protected bird species inside the park. A fresh offence was registered on Tuesday against Bhowar, 29, for trespassing and hunting two Indian pond herons. Bhowar was produced before a Thane court on Tuesday and remanded to the forest department’s custody till January 17.
Bhowar is a resident of Patona pada in Yeoor range of the national park. He has confessed to hunting two Indian pond herons at compartment number 1138 in the national park. Indian pond herons are protected under schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972.
“The accused will be taken into the forest where he killed the birds, for enquiry, on Wednesday,” said Anwar Ahmed, director and chief conservator of forest, SGNP.
Two more persons – Suraj Bhawar and Bhavesh Thakare – both residents of Patona pada – have been identified as Bhowar’s accomplices.
“They are on the run, but we have informed the Mumbai Police to help us track them down and formed a separate team to survey other tribal hamlets to find them,” said an investigating officer from SGNP.
The breakthrough comes days after a poaching racket was busted at Film City on December 31 and eight people were arrested for setting up wire snares, and killing deer and a leopard.
The arrested accused revealed that they’d killed a deer in 2016 inside the national park, which prompted SGNP to carry out an independent investigation into similar instances over the years. Forest officers had set up 22 camera traps to monitor animal movement in Yeoor range on November 24 as part of a routine exercise.
“When we checked the footage 15 days later, we found one man carrying a gun, moving through the park and one of our camera traps was stolen,” the forest officia said. While the accused claims it was only an air gun, officials are not convinced and have yet to find the weapon.
Though he was facing the opposite direction, we identified his name written on the back of his shirt,” the official said. “We involved the Thane crime branch to help us identify the accused.”
On January 12, the crime branch arrested Bhowar on preliminary offences. They confirmed that he had stolen the camera and handed him over to the forest department’s custody on Monday.