Bhubaneswar, Aug 12: The seizure of 165 guns from 21 poachers in and around Similipal National Park in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district has shocked environmentalists and wildlife lovers.
Wildlife lovers have blamed the state government for the uncontrolled poaching of tigers, elephants, deer, and other endangered animals.
The state government became alert after the killing of two forest staff by the poachers. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has informed the uncontrolled activity of poachers in the sanctuary in its earlier reports, said Bhubaneswar-based wildlife photographer Biswaranjan Rout.
Scores of wild animals have been poached during the last 15 years due to the negligence of the forest department and the nexus between forest personnel and local influential persons and poachers. The official seizure of tiger hides, tusks, pangolins, and deer horns by the forest department is just eyewash, said a retired forest official of Similipal Tiger Reserve.
The poachers arrested by the Special Task Force (STF) of Odisha Crime Branch, forest department, and district police and guns seized during this period are fewer while hundreds of poachers were active in the sanctuary in nexus with forest personnel.
The seized guns are noted. The poachers have hidden around 2000 guns in the deep forest. They never keep weapons with them to prevent arrest. They stash guns and weapons in the deep forest and caves with specific marks for identification. They go hunting taking weapons from there and return after stashing, said a senior police official having earlier work experience in wildlife protection.
Around 14 elephants were killed by poachers in Similipal in 2010 along with several tigers. The NTCA had sent a team to Similipal of which I was a member. The team had raised concern over the uncontrolled activity of poachers in the sanctuary and the inactivity of the police force for the safety of the habitats of the sanctuary in its report. However, neither the Centre nor the state government took action following the report, said Odisha Banyaprani Samiti secretary Dr Biswajit Mohanty.