The arrest of six poachers from Nalsarovar Sanctuary's vicinity has raised doubts about the preparedness of the forest department to tackle the menace of poaching. This is the second incident of poachers being caught from the area which indicates that illegal activities are rampant here. Officials blame an acute shortage of staff permanent staff for the poaching in the area.
The poaching of birds and reptiles is widespread in the area outside the sanctuary and also among some of the local communities, a forest official said. He further said that snakes are killed for their poison while monitor lizards are poached for meat.
The belief that the meat of monitor lizards enhances sexual prowess is largely to blame for their poaching. Also, the oily extraction obtained by boiling the reptile carcass eases arthritic pain. These beliefs, according to foresters, have no scientific credence.
Unfortunately, the main culprits responsible for poaching in the area are yet to be arrested. "It has been noted many times that those arrested are just a front for people from nearby villages who are actually behind those responsible. They never get caught," said a forest official. Those arrested on Wednesday are all from weak economic backgrounds. A senior forest official said that the area has some communities who are into poaching for generations.
What's more, the poachers operating in the area are quite cruel. In April, when some migratory birds were recovered from poachers' possession, their wings had been cut and legs broken. Even in the latest incident, the tails of the lizards were cut and legs twisted so that the animal could not escape.
The department was able to make the arrests because of the intelligence network of officials and the staff on the ground but there is an acute shortage of permanent staff, an official told TOI. Temporary staff are sent only during the season when migratory birds come to the lake.
After the April poaching incident, it was decided to provide additional staff and install closed circuit cameras at several sensitive points. However, these measures are yet to be implemented.