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Bishnois protest against chinkara poaching in Rajasthan

No to poaching: Members of the Bishnoi community holding a protest against poaching of chinkaras outside Aranya Bhavan in Jaipur on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Rohit Jain Paras

Amid reports that the demand for meat has fuelled poaching of endangered chinkaras in the Bikaner and Shekhawati regions, a large number of wildlife lovers and members of the Bishnoi community staged a demonstration outside Aranya Bhavan, headquarters of the Forest Department, here on Wednesday.

Endangered status

The poaching has been going on despite the chinkara enjoying the status of an endangered animal with the highest protection under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The Bishnoi sect, which protects animals and trees as part of its religious beliefs, zealously guards chinkaras in the Marwar region where it lives in majority.

The protesters raised slogans and submitted a memorandum, addressed to Chief Wildlife Warden G.V. Reddy, asking why the Forest Department was silent on the hunting of gazelles, even though the poaching was being reported with regularity. The areas where Bishnois do not reside have witnessed a sharp increase in these instances.

All India Bishnoi Mahasabha executive member Ram Niwas Bishnoi said seven chinkara carcasses were recovered recently in the Shekhawati region with the poachers revealing that they sell the gazelle meat for ₹150 per kg or ₹.2,000 for the complete animal body. “These claims should be verified through an impartial investigation and hunters arrested without delay,” he said.

Representatives of the Tourism and Wildlife Society of India and Bishnoi Tiger Force, who also joined the demonstration, said they were baffled by the Rajasthan government’s silence when the endangered animals which gave a unique identity to the State were being hunted.

Demand for meat

The chinkaras are being poached allegedly by the Bawaria community, a Scheduled Caste whose traditional occupation is hunting, at the behest of wealthy local people fond of meat. The instances of poaching go up during winters when there is an inflow of tourists in the desert State.

“The hunters don’t dare to come to the areas near Jodhpur where there is a big population of Bishnois. They know we will catch them...They take advantage of lack of awareness among the people in other regions and neglect of the government authorities,” said Mr. Bishnoi.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 3:24:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bishnois-protest-against-chinkara-poaching-in-rajasthan/article20670235.ece

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