Nellore/Kurnool: The top brass of the Andhra Pradesh forest department has been camping in the Nallamala forest following a red alert from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau that a notorious gang from Haryana has migrated to the Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR) in the Nallamala forest to hunt tigers and leopards.
NTCA also sent photographs of the criminals that have been distributed among the field staff, police and railway station personnel on the outskirts of the reserve.
Forest officers are visiting vulnerable areas close to the Krishna River Bank and alerting the locals to inform them if they come across new faces and people speaking in Hindi.
Chief Conservator of Forests S.A. Saravanan told DC that the information received is that a gang from Pinjore town in Haryana, whose members are experts in hunting wild animals, has ventured into the Nallama forest.
Atmakur (Kurnool) divisional forest officer C. Selvam said that there is reliable information that the Bawariya gang, whose members are well-known poachers, entered the fringe area of the tiger reserve in Andhra Pradesh two days ago.
He said that all the forest range officers and other sub staff are on round-the-clock vigil, and patrolling has been intensified in the peripheral areas of the tiger reserve and adjoining forest divisions.
The gang members suspected to have ventured into NSTR have been named as Leelavati, Rakesh, Vijay, Vakeel and five or six others, the DFO said.
Mr Selvam said that the Bawaria gang is ruthless and organised. In March this year, a member of the gang was arrested from the Haridwar-Nazibabad highway with five tiger skin and tiger bones in his possession.
Markapuram DFO B. Jayachandra Reddy said that forest beat officers, base camps and Chenchu tribals have been alerted in and around the tiger reserve about the intrusion of the gang.
According to the Divisional Forest Officer, at present there are around 40 tigers and hundreds of leopards in the 3700 sq. km. Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve.