Forest officials arrested an alleged poacher at Tungareshwar national park on Saturday afternoon. The accused, Ramesh Sikurghata, was produced before a magistrate court in Vasai on Sunday and has been remanded in custody of the forest officials for a week.
This is the first poaching arrest in the forest since it was notified as a national park in 2005. Despite rampant poaching of boars, deers and other animals, officials had failed to arrest any culprit.
On Saturday, the officials received information that poachers from Devkundi village would camp in the forest for hunting. The officials kept a vigil and around noon, spotted four men trying to camp in the area. They immediately prepared to nab them, but a chase ensued and three escaped. Sikurghata was arrested and officials recovered a gun, bullets, knives and torches from the site.
"The accused were carrying food items to cook while they camped and waited for a catch," said Sushant Salgaonkar, range forest officer, Yeur. Salgaonkar said that Sikurghata has claimed he and his friends were in the forest to hunt for a wild pig. "But there are other animals like deer, boars, and leopards in the forest and the accused could have planned to target them," he said.
"This is the first such case at Tungareshwar since it was notified," said Krishna Tiwari from Citizen Forest Initiative.
The accused will be booked under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and the Indian Forest Act of 1927 and can be jailed for up to three years.
Forest officials spotted four men trying to camp in the forest. As they prepared to nab them, a chase ensued and three escaped. A gun, bullets, knives and torches were recovered from the site.