About 125 of them hunt regularly using unlicensed country-made guns. Representational image/AFP
KHAMMAM/KOTHAGUDEM: Illegal killing of wildlife is going on unabated in forests of Khammam and Bhadradri-Kothagudem districts. These include animals listed in Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
As per an estimate, at least 10,000 different wild animals are being killed every year in forests spread over 7,845.35 square kilometres in the two districts. Their killing is the handiwork of nearly 3,500 professional poachers and hunters. Among them, about 125 hunt regularly using unlicensed country-made guns. They even sell wildlife meat.
K. Ramnarayana, a wildlife lover, pointed out that most wildlife is killed by poachers, who do so for their livelihood. "Alternative employment should be provided to such people, so that they stop killing wildlife. State government should take the issue seriously," he underlined.
Wild animals killed by these poachers include iguanas, monster lizard, four-horn antelope (konda gorre) and bison, listed in Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act, apart from spotted deer, sambar, mongoose and wild boar. Thousands of wild boars are killed every year.
One of the methods poachers use to kill wildlife is setting up live wires in the forests. Any animal that gets into contact with these wires dies due to electrocution. Entering forests and setting up wires is a day-to-day affair for many poachers.
Sattupalli forest range officer A. Venkateswarlu underlines, "Every living thing on this planet has a role to play in the ecosystem and food chain. Extinction of any one species can have an adverse impact on forests. What is the need for people to eat wildlife when other meat is available in market? Government should change the law and impose murder cases against persons killing wildlife," he observed.
As per records, 45 wild boars, six sambars, a spotted deer and countless mongoose had been killed in January 2022 alone. But actual killings could be at least five times more.
Khammam forest range officer Radhika said awareness camps are being organised in rural areas around forests against consumption of wildlife meat.