By Manka Behl
Nagpur: A gang of eight habitual poachers was nabbed in a joint operation carried out by the Bhandara forest division and members of NGO Save Ecosystem And Tiger (SEAT) near Panchgaon water body in Bhandara district on Friday late evening.
Acting on a tip-off, about five foresters led by round officer Gauri Neware and four members of SEAT red-handedly caught the poachers who were looking for an opportunity to hunt black bucks that are found near the water body which comes under Mohadi Taluka in Bhandara district.
Officials said that they were caught with big sticks and three pet dogs which were trained by the accused to hunt prey animals. Bhandara assistant conservator of forests (ACF) BP Rathod informed that bodies of five jungle cats and three mongooses were also seized from the poachers.
During interrogation, it was found out that the poachers were from Mohadi Taluka and some of them belong to the same family. One of the accused is a juvenile.
Sources from the forest department said that the local gang is believed to be regularly engaged in local herbivore poaching activities. "The accused have admitted that they keep hunting animals in every two to three months but for their own consumption. However, we are trying to trace some deeper links in the case and see if any other party is involved. We will be soon producing them in front of the magistrate," said Rathod.
He added that forester MD Kirpan has been appointed as the investigating officer in the case and he is conducting a detailed investigation in the matter.
Founder of SEAT Shahid Parvez Khan said that the poachers were nabbed from behind before they could hunt any black buck. "After getting information about their location, we followed them till the water body where we saw them walking with their dogs and large sticks in their hands. Sensing their intentions of hunting black bucks, we caught hold of them from behind and immediately snatched away their sticks. They were carrying the dead bodies of three big and two small jungle cats in a dupatta while those of two big and one small mongoose in a polythene bag." he added.
The seized dead bodies of the animals have been sent for post-mortem by the department.