Aizawl: At least 22 persons have been arrested for poaching in Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram over the last two years. This includes seven people from the Bru community and six from the Chakma community.
Mizoram environment and forests department officials said Brus from relief camps in North Tripura were part of the poachers' gang. Seventeen people have been convicted and punished under relevant sections of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Forest officials have seized 26 guns, including 11 indigenous firearms, 9 SBBL guns and two .22 rifles from the poachers.
Dampa Tiger Reserve field director Laltlanhlua Zathang said Chakma poachers mainly hunted pangolins (scaly Asian and African anteaters) for their scales, while Bru hunters hounded wild animals for food.
Awareness campaigns on wildlife protection have been conducted in villages along the reserve, said Zathang.
"The poachers usually dismantle the guns, carry them in their bags and, after reaching a spot deep inside the tiger reserve, assemble them," he added.
The 500 sq km tiger reserve has four permanent foresters, three regular forest guards, two contractual foresters, four contractual guards and 14 people employed on a daily basis.