By Paritosh Kimothi
It may sound strange but true that poachers of the Bawaria community are now outsourcing wildlife crime to members of the Sapera and Kanjar communities.
As the members of these communities have been hunting animals traditionally and as they are already settled in various areas especially in the vicinity of Rajaji national park and Corbett tiger reserve, the poachers of Bawaria community are finding it convenient and profitable to involve members of these communities. Forest officials also acknowledge that a nexus of the members of these three communities is active in wildlife crime.
According to the Endangered Flora and Fauna on Earth Conservation Team (EFFECT) chairman Dr Abhishek Singh, members of the Sapera community have settled in various places in Uttarakhand including Kalsi, Sahaspur, Dharmawala, Rajpur, Raipur, Mothrowala, Kale ki Dhal, Haripur Kalan, under the Chandighat bridge, Pathri, Jaspur, Kashipur and Rudrapur among other sites.
“Members of this community have settled in various places near Rajaji and Corbett and their involvement in poaching is increasing. Traditionaly, they hunt various small animals for food so Bawaria poachers who have grown rich from wildlife crime are now outsourcing poaching to the Sapera community members as they live conveniently close to protected forest areas and are familiar with both the area and poaching. “About half of the dozen men arrested recently for poaching two tigers in the Amangarh range in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh adjoining Corbett belong to Sapera or Kanjar communities,” he said while adding that apart from poaching in the plains, members of this community often travel to the mountains during fairs held there and are believed to be involved in poaching leopards in the mountains.
Wildlife activists further State that Rajaji authorities have been informed about the poaching activities of Sapera community members in the national park especially when it comes to poaching pangolin.The State anti-poaching cell director SK Dutt said that the department is keeping an eye on the members of these communities who have formed a nexus for poaching and other wildlife crimes.
“We are writing to the Uttar Pradesh chief wildlife warden to make a joint strategy for wildlife protection,” he said while stressing that members of the three communities are on the department’s radar.
It is worth mentioning here that lack of effective wildlife security in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh has resulted in the poaching of at least three tigers this year in the forests of UP adjoining Corbett tiger reserve.