With all resources and efforts focused on saving human life during the COVID-19 crisis, wildlife has been rendered exposed to greater threat from poaching.
In Rajasthan 17 species including Tiger, Panther, Desert Monitor Lizard and Rajasthan’s state bird Great Indian Bustard (GIB) are under serious threat. The Wildlife department has issued an advisory for enhancing intelligence collection and control of illegal wildlife trade. It needs to be mentioned here that poachers had wiped clean Sariska of all tigers and the species had to be relocated in its natural habitat.
Chief Wildlife Warden Rajasthan, Arindam Tomar has issued an advisory to CCFs at Jaipur, Udaipur and Jodhpur, and to the Field Directors at Sariska, Ranthambore and Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserves for the same.
This is after the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change issued a directive to all states and union territories to step up action including vigilance to control poaching. The states have been advised to enhance patrolling, activate informer networks and equip anti-poaching staff with means of communication and mobility.
It also directs them to use all available technology to identify vulnerable areas and track the movement of suspicious people.
Correspondingly the Rajasthan Wildlife Department has identified 17 species whose poaching and illegal trade has been reported in the past. The department has asked its officials to gather intelligence on modus operandi to prevent poaching concealment, transportation and smuggling.
“Villagers had started to go into forest areas for firewood during lockdown and have enhanced patrolling to check this as it creates a possibility of poachers going in too. Guards have been deployed and our staff is patrolling extensively. A deer was poached and we arrested two persons,” Mukesh Saini, DFO Sawai Madhopur told The Free Press Journal.
Several instances of Chinkara and Deer poaching have been reported from Nagaur, Sawai Madhopur, Jodhpur, Bikaner and Barmer districts. Villagers have been adopting a proactive to take on poachers, especially in Nagaur, Bikaner and Jodhpur areas.
FIRs have also been lodged and poachers have been arrested in Sawai Madhopur and Nagaur, going on to prove the relevance of the ministry directive.
Speaking to The Free Press Journal, GV Reddy, Head Of Forest Forces (HOFF), Rajasthan said, “The situation is different in Barmer, Bikaner and Jodhpur districts in Western Rajasthan where there are less wildlife sanctuaries, but animals are present in abundance. Deer especially is present even in village areas. The Bishnoi community has been helping and providing us with information.”
During summer months wildlife movement gets concentrated near water holes. This enhances their vulnerability to poachers.
The species that are at risk from poachers in Rajasthan: