Friday, December 11, 2009

Hunters thriving where Naxals tread 2 tigers

TNN 12 December 2009, 05:41am IST

Nagpur: The fact that poachers are actively carrying out their trade in the bordering areas in Chhatisgarh close to Maharashtra can be a major
concern for the forest ministry and green activists. It has been learnt that poachers feared to have killed two tigers and a leopard in the bordering Indravati National Park recently as some sources indicated that one of three skins have been smuggled into the state for sale. The national park, which is located in the naxal stronghold of Dantewada where the rebels have chilling presence, is mostly avoided by the government officials for the fear of being targeted.


A team of forest officials, getting wind of the poachers' fronts men sneaking into Maharashtra crossing over the Indravati river, had laid a trap along the possible route to nab the smugglers who are likely to be fleeing from village to village in Gadchiroli. Sources in the district claimed that the leopard skin has come to the state for sale while there are no confirmation about the tigers one. Despite a grave naxal threat, some forest officials of Gadchiroli have taken risk to venture into the deep jungles going after the poachers who managed to give them a slip at the last moment.


In naxal-affected Gadchiroli, forest officials claimed that the Andhra Pradesh-based sagwan smugglers likely to have compromised with the rebels to carry out illicit felling of the trees which have caused major depletion of the green cover in the tribal district. If sources are to be believed, around 1100 sagwan trees were felled earlier this year in the district from a certain range itself in South Gadchiroli. Apart from naxals cover, the forest officials also claimed that political interference too has affected their work in the district against illicit felling.


Just when it was expected that the forest officials working in Gadchiroli have been emboldened with the arms that was given to them viewing the increasing aggression of the Andhra Pradesh based teak smugglers, naxals blew the hope away of better guarding by looting an air gun, Self Loading rifle and 20 ammunitions from the Somnur camp. Worst, they also held nearly 35 forest personnel hostage for around six hours only to free them with threat of dire consequences in case they approach the cops.


A section of the forest officials, fearing that the naxals may start targeting them leaving aside the contractors who are now are under their threat, have suspended their deep jungle patrolling. The naxals have already set couple of bamboo godowns, belonging to forest department, on fire in the recent past. With the ongoing strike called by the Naxals to observe their People Liberation Guerillas Army week in the first week of December, forest officials feel that it is better to steer clear of the rebels. The forest officials are also on the backfoot after one of their senior officers had to face public wrath after he gunned down three alleged teakwood smugglers in the jungle.


IMP Box:


'Tiger bones transported in powder form, muscles fermented'


Soumittra S Bose / TNN


Nagpur: In a recent exposure, TOI has learnt through reliable sources that there is a smuggling syndicate active in Chhatisgarh state which are allegedly involved in the poaching activities in the Dantewada and Bastar districts. Being highly affected by Naxal insurgency, government officials generally avoid venturing into the heartlands of the rebels.


Apart from poaching, reliable sources claimed that the smugglers try to put every parts of the dead animals into use. While they process the skins of tigers and leopards in traditional methods in the remote villages, the bones are grinded to turn into it powder form completely. "There is little way to intercept bones in powder form which can be only best be decided at forensic laboratories. To the normal eyes, the bone powders can hardly be recognized," said a source adding that bone powder is far more useful than the skins or hair.


The muscles, it was known, would be fermented for days before it would be sent through distilling process to extract some kind of liquid form. The liquid would be then transported away to foreign countries especially China.

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