Andhra Pradesh

Camera trap for tigers shoots Naxals

A pedestrian trail through the thick forest in Mangi area of Adilabad district. Photo: S. Harpal Singh  

A camera trap set up to capture the movement of tigers in Tiryani forest range in Adilabad is reported to have caught the movement of Maoists last month. ‘Confused’ forest officials however, are believed to have deleted the images from the camera’s memory card to avoid questioning and perhaps being marked by the naxalites in the area.

According to sources, six armed extremists were caught on the camera trap located at a strategic spot in the Gundala forest beat in Tiryani Revenue mandal some time in August. Bellampalli Additional Superintendent of Police Bhaskar Bhushan said the field staff of Bellampalli Forest Division, responsible for maintenance of the camera traps, confirmed that pictures of extremists were being captured by the wildlife cameras only to add that the officials in-charge denied it.

The issue came to light only when 15 camera traps set up by Bellampalli forest division and an NGO were removed from their locations following theft of five of them.The action came after the images of naxalites were found on the memory card of the camera trap but sources attribute it to the exposed lack of safety following the theft.

Bellampalli Divisional Forest Officer P. Venkateshwarlu said, “Images of some human movement were caught on the camera but those were not of extremists.” He said the camera traps were removed from the Tiryani range as the purpose of capturing wild animal images was served.

Volatile region

The area falls under the buffer zone of the Kawal Tiger Reserve besides being a former stronghold of the Mangi dalam of the Communist Party of India (ML) People's War. There have been 11 exchanges of fire so far in the Mangi forests since 1990 and the extremists suffered only one casualty, in the 2001 Govena encounter.

A band of 22 armed Maoists are said to be moving in the Mangi forests since July 20 and the spot where the images of naxalites were reportedly captured is about 30 km from the spot in Kasipet mandal where the first exchange of fire between the outlawed group and police forces took place. The second exchange of fire took place in Markaguda of Tiryani mandal itself which is closer still to the spot, according to sources.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 1:05:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/Camera-trap-for-tigers-shoots-Naxals/article11146016.ece

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