Effective patrolling unravels wildlife snaring; authorities step up vigil

Trapping animals for meat fairly common in Malai Mahadeshwara—Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary belt

July 26, 2017 12:43 am | Updated 12:43 am IST - Mysuru

 Karnataka : Mysuru : 25/07/2017    A spotted deer found snared at M.M.Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.

Karnataka : Mysuru : 25/07/2017 A spotted deer found snared at M.M.Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.

Poaching wildlife for meat continues unabated in Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary— Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary landscape as was evident with the discovery of a snared spotted deer near Hanur in Kollegal taluk of Chamarajanagar district.

The incident came to light late on Monday evening when personnel of the anti-poaching camp were engaged in patrolling duty along the Hannur Buffer Range of M.M. Hills wildlife division. This comes close on the heels of two persons, carrying a carcass of a deer, photographed by a surveillance camera a few days ago.

Deputy Conservator of Forests Rameshkumar told The Hindu that the forest guards came across the snared deer in the Pachedoddi forest enclosure and one person, identified as Nataraj, has been arrested.

Snaring animals for meat is fairly common in the Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary-Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary belt given the vast terrain that makes it difficult for authorities to comb the entire forest boundary. Besides, the landscape borders both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and hence poachers tend to commit crime in one State and slip into another to evade detection. But the bulk of the poaching of animals for meat takes place on the periphery of forests abutting villages and the authorities have stepped up vigil and patrolling along these stretches. “The practice is to lay the snares late in the evening in anticipation of trapping the unsuspecting animals by night and killing them for meat. Hence, the anti-poaching camp personnel alternate their combing operation and patrol late in the evening on a few days and during early morning or late afternoon hours on other days,” Mr. Rameskumar said. The bulk of the snares tend to be located on the narrow boundary separating the forest from village fields and the combing operations to remove the snares is a perpetual exercise in the Cauvery-M.M. Hills landscape. Recently, two youngsters removed a series of snares and rescued a spotted deer from snares and released it into the wild. The entire operation was recorded and the video posted on social media sites by them went viral. It was only last month that the Forest Department removed nearly 25 snares along the forest boundary while 20 snares laid along the river banks were removed six months ago.

These forests also have a history of shootouts with poachers and the vast terrain — spread over nearly 2,000 sq. km — makes it difficult for the authorities to man the entire landscape effectively.

However, Mr. Rameshkumar refuted that poaching was on the rise and said owing to effective patrolling such incidents are being thwarted and are coming to light and there is a steady decline in poaching compared to say what it was 10 years ago.

Anti-poaching camps strengthened

The vast terrain of Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary – spread over 1,027 sq. km — and Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary — which spans nearly 907 sq. km — makes it one of the single largest swathe of contiguous forest in the State. Besides, it is close to the BRT Tiger Reserve (spread over 530 sq. km) and the Satyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu that extends to nearly 1,200 sq. km, and thus there is contiguous forest spread for nearly 3,500 sq. km that could be a paradise for wildlife. Given the vast territory, it was imperative to beef up manpower and the Forest Department in recent months has strengthened its staff strength to patrol the jungles. While 27 additional guards have been roped in for Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, 17 guards have been inducted at M.M. Hills Wildlife Division, all of whom are under training and would be deployed in the field by early 2018, according to DCF Rameshkumar. Conservationists aver that entire landscape has the potential of harbouring a high density of tigers and other flagship species as both Bandipur and Nagarahole reserves have reached their optimum carry capacity. Apart from tigers and nearly 600 to 800 elephants that roam free in these forests, the camera-trapping exercise by conservationists have proved the presence of 17 small carnivore species, including jungle cat, rusty spotted cat, common palm civet, small Indian civet, ruddy mongoose, Indian grey mongoose, and the smooth-coated otter.

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