In a post-dusk operation, a forest protection squad arrested four persons on a charge of hunting pintail ducks and glossy ibis, migratory birds which flocked to the Big Tank for breeding and nesting during this season.
Acting on a tip-off, the squad reached the waterbody near Selli Amman Temple at Vannivayal late on Thursday evening and rounded up the poachers when they were tying the wings of the birds for packing.
After arresting the poachers, the squad seized all the 37 birds – 14 pintail ducks and 23 glossy ibis – listed under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. All the birds were alive, S. Ganesalingam, Forest Range Officer, said.
The accused were identified as S. Arumugam (47), K. Pathamuthu (32), V. Murugan (35) and N. Munusamy (52). They hailed from MGR Nagar and Anna Nagar in Vannivayal area, he said.
The squad, comprising anti-poaching watchers K. Kumaresan, S. Rajagopal, P. Jagadalaprathapan and P. Ilayaperumal, had been visiting the waterbody for the last three days following specific inputs about poaching activities but could not spot the poachers.
On Thursday evening, they walked for nearly one and a half km along thorny bushes and caught the poachers red-handed, Mr. Kumaresan said. The poachers hunted the birds after laying nets in the waterbody.
Interrogation of the accused revealed that they hunted the birds for selling them to hotels and bars, they said.
Mr. Ganesalingam said Deepak Bilgi, Wildlife Warden of Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, would decide whether the accused should be produced before a court or released after being fined. The birds would be released in Therthangal Bird Sanctuary after the case was decided, he said.