Hyderabad: The forest department is in such a hurry to cull wild boars that it has even hired an alleged poacher on its panel of official shooters.
The department recently hired 18 shooters apart from eight hired earlier in March. One of the 18 is Mujahid Ali Khan, who has a case pending against him in the High Court for allegedly killing a sambar deer last year in Tanur, Adilabad.
When a senior forest official was asked about this, he expressed shock and said, “We did not know that there is a poacher in the list of shooters. We will have to verify the list again after which a revised list will be prepared if it is found to be true.”
The official said that the main criteria for selection of shooters were that they should be long-term members of National Rifle Association of India or the Telangana Rifle Association and should have a valid arms licence.
It is being alleged that some shooters were selected under political pressure. There are allegations that there are a few shooters who have no cases against them but have participated in hunting wild animals.
The department-appointed shooters will have licence to kill wild boars in Telangana if they are found to be destroying agricultural fields. Thirty-five persons had applied for the job.
Most of the shooters are said to be well-connected individuals from Hyderabad, known for trophy hunting in African countries without any training in wildlife management. Hunting a wild boar will not help any of these shooters financially but speaking to a few revealed that they are doing this for the “love of wildlife” and “helping farmers.”
Ms Diya Banerjee, a wildlife activist from the city, had filed a public interest litigation in the Hyderabad High Court earlier this year against the government's plan to cull wild boar. The case was dismissed with some guidelines to the forest department.
Ms Banerjee said, “If the forest department thinks culling is important then police or forest officials must be trained and it should be done scientifically. Otherwise, culling will become a reason for killing.”
She said that one of the shooters appointed by Telangana was called for culling wild boars in Maharashtra. “He went on a killing spree in a tiger reserve, which was stopped after wildlife NGOs intervened,” she said.