Dedicated foresters fume over poachers' nexus with politicians and officials

Meanwhile, the foresters are now investigating a Panchayat president in Tiruvannamalai for a felling teak wood in Javaddu hills last week.

Chennai: Dedicated foresters probing wildlife crime in the state are upset with the growing incidence of a nexus between poachers', department insiders and politicians. Members of DMK, AIADMK and Congress are also in the coterie of poachers particularly those smuggling red sanders and venison (deer meat), highly placed foresters told DC sharing the recent arrest of Anaicutt Babu, a prominent DMK functionary in Vellore, who was stripped of the party post by the DMK on Friday for his involvement in smuggling of Red Sanders.

Babu has been involved in smuggling of timber for more than ten years, but due to his smartness and political connections, he had been evading the radar of TN officials. But the Andhra foresters arrested him last month and investigations revealed that he had felled Red sanders from Vellore, Tiruvannamalai and Salem areas also but evaded the action of the TN forest department.

But in case of spotted deer poaching, there is no permanent solution. Particularly Coimbatore and Sathyamangalam are now losing their wildlife produce to Kerala. Whenever the field foresters confiscate deer meat, the poachers are let off with a meagre fine of Rs 10,000 or Rs 20,000, sources confirmed to DC. "On January 29, a poacher was detained at the Pudhukaadu range in Coimbatore with more than ten kilos of deer meat.

The foresters fined the accused K. Murthy with Rs 20,000 and this means they have fixed Rs 2,000 per kilo for an endangered species protected under the wildlife protection act. So what is the difference between mutton which sells Rs 600 per kilo and the department fixed Rs 2,000 for venison", fumed a young officer?

In nearby Telangana, the police arrested the husband of a Zilla Parishad leader of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti's (TRS) and there has to be more arrests related to politicians and officers, only then poaching can be curbed, the officer added.

"There are provisions to remand the poachers and investigate the matter in detail. But the majority of the time, fine is imposed and the case is closed and this is common in areas like Coimbatore and Sathyamangalam due to their proximity to Kerala, which encourages poaching", said a ranger wishing not to be named.

Meanwhile, the foresters are now investigating a Panchayat president in Tiruvannamalai for a felling teak wood in Javaddu hills last week. The Tiruvannamalai north division foresters registered the case only after the intervention of higher official, admitted confidential sources reminding the involvement of a Congress functionary's brother in a Red Sander smuggling case two years ago in north Chennai.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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