By Faiz Rahman Siddiqui
The wildlife poachers in the region have started recruiting women to use them as carriers and hunters, if recent incidents of wildlife offences are any indication.
The Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP), recently, came across a stunning incident of turtle smuggling wherein seven women on board Delhi-Howrah Express were arrested for smuggling around 400 live turtles.
Sources privy to search and seizure said the case was unique in the sense that police personnel are generally 'soft' on women passengers. This was the first instance wherein a group of seven women acted as conduit in turtle smuggling.
Four of them were natives of Kolkata while three hailed from various localities of the city, all the seven women were travelling in the general compartment of Delhi-Howrah bound Janata express. They were going to West Bengal to deliver the consignment.
In yet another incident, the Government Railway Police (GRP) arrested two women and recovered 138 rare turtles from their possession at Etawah railway station in 2010. The women, residents of West Bengal, were hired by wildlife poachers to catch turtles from here and smuggle them to their native place.
Similarly, a large number of carcasses of rabbits were seized with the arrest of a woman, a native of Rajasthan, and her four male counterparts from Shahganj area of Agra district on Septemper 23, 2013. Around 50 skulls and other body parts of rabbits were recovered from her house.
A senior forest official of Etawah, however, said because of the close watch by the forest personnel in the region, there is no organised gang of the poachers here.
However, he added that people, including women hunters, belonging to a particular Rajasthani tribe hired by local farmers for killing blue bull are on a hunting spree in the region. "We have not yet come across any organised poaching gang operating here. With Chambal river flowing through the region, it has a rich forest cover. Some farmers, who resides on the fringes of forest cover hire hunters comprising women-folks of 'Kanjar' tribe from Rajasthan to protect their crops from blue bull. More....