M. Sundarakumar, I.F.S., Wildlife Warden, Gulf of Mannar National Park, writes:
This has reference to the news item “Gulf of Mannar biosphere a neglected biodiversity hotspot” (Tamil Nadu editions, Internet, June 8), which said that “last April there were two cases of poaching of dugong each weighing 400 kg. But the offender was allowed to go scot free without any investigation.”
A dead dugong was recovered at Rameswaram port on April 6 and another at Seeniappa Dharga on April 16. They were not poached. The Wildlife Warden, Ramanathapuram, conducted an interrogation at the site. No organs of the dugongs were found removed. Post mortem attributed the deaths in both cases to “respiratory and circulatory failure.” The department has not allowed any offender to go scot free as no offence was committed.
The report also quoted the Director of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Trust as saying that “conservation was still under buried condition in the marine biosphere.” The State Forest Department has implemented various protection and conservation schemes with the help of Centrally sponsored schemes. It has engaged 90 anti-poaching watchers. Between 2003 and 2008, 20 cases were registered. Between 2008 and 2010, 89 cases were registered and 120 people were arrested and remanded. A sum of Rs.4.60 lakh was collected as penalty. Patrolling and surprise checks are being carried out regularly and habitual offenders arrested and remanded. Smuggling of sea turtle and sea cucumber in Tuticorin Range has been arrested.