TIRUPATI: The demand for bushmeat in parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, particularly in Bengaluru city, has led to an increase in poaching, with hunters using country-made arms and explosives against wildlife in the forests of Chittoor district.
The scenario remains worse in Palamaner and Piler ranges. Wild boar, rabbit, fowl and spotted deer, all of them found widely outside the protected areas, are among the easy targets for poachers. Several such law violators have been arrested. They were found using country guns and explosives manufactured by local ironsmiths, as also air guns.
Repeated counselling sessions by the police on instructions from SP Senthilkumar led to the surrender of 503 country-made rifles in a week’s time in June last year. Subsequently, the police also seized homemade weapons, gun powder and pellets and hundreds of cases have been booked.
Officials said that there were increasing incidents of poachers arranging snares to hunt wildlife in the forests of Chittoor and also of the accidental shooting of innocent people. Last June, the carcass of a fully-grown female leopard was found in the forest area near Vemulawada village of Yerravaripalem Mandal.
An incident of alleged hunting and killing of a peacock was reported from Seshachalam forests at Bakarapeta in March.
A few months ago, a sloth bear was found dead in a snare in the Palamaner reserve forest.
In January, Rallabuduguru police in Kuppam circle arrested a man and seized a country rifle from him after he accidentally shot at a 14-year-old boy while hunting wild boars. A similar incident was reported from Kuppam on Sunday. The police took three persons into custody after they accidentally shot at a farmer while hunting wild boars.
According to forest staff, bush meat is believed to be rich with proteins and has medicinal values. There is a huge demand for this meat in Karnataka, TN and parts of AP. The Covid19 pandemic has further increased the demand for bush meat. As a result, poaching has picked up pace in the forests of Chittoor. This prompted the district police to take up another special drive against illegal arms and explosives.
Chittoor West divisional forest officer (DFO) Ravi Shankar told Deccan Chronicle that there was a recent spurt in poaching and a special drive was planned to check this menace and preserve the flora and fauna.
“We have taken up a drive to remove snares in the forests. Under the special drive, we would first ask those in possession of illegal weapons to surrender them and then we will file criminal cases against poachers under the Wildlife Protection Act,” the DFO said.
Meanwhile, police arrested three persons who accidentally shot a farmer while hunting wild boards outside the forest area near Ambapuram village in Kuppam mandal of Chittoor district. The incident occurred on September 2 last year, but came to light on Sunday when the police took a set of poachers into custody.
According to police, the injured farmer Venkatesh (30) suffered gunshot wounds from the poacher’s gun when he was guarding his groundnut crop at night on September 2. Based on the complaint lodged by the farmer, who was currently under treatment, the police arrested three persons -- Hanumanthu, Selvaraj and Vadivel, hailing from Ambala village.
The incident took place during a poaching attempt in the fields located close to the forest in Kuppam mandals’ Ambala.
The police charged the accused under IPC Section 304 (punishment for not amounting to murder) as the police’s preliminary probe found that the incident was accidental. The police also seized the country-made gun in the possession of the accused.