Forest officials on Wednesday visited the site where 60 birds were alleged to have been poached inside the Nalsarovar Bird sanctuary earlier this week and discovered several broken wings and a thick foliage 8-12 feet tall grass, covering an area 8 km from end-to-end, hiding it completely from the outside view.
"We went on a boat and visited the spot, about four kms from where the poachers were apprehended on Sunday night. The tall grass hides any kind of movement inside the area. We recovered several broken wings and have sent samples to the Coimbatore-based Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History to test for chemical remains," said Dr K Sasikumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests at the sanctuary, which is also the state's only Ramsar site.
The DCF added that 10 to 15 forest staff from adjoining divisions would join the sanctuary's four field staff this weekend for a combing operation to find more clues and possibly trim the tall grass to deter potential poachers in future.
The two alleged poachers caught with 60 live birds (their wings and legs broken to immobilize them) were apprehended near Ranagadh village, from where hundreds of fishing nets suspected to have been used to catch birds have been seized in the last three months.
"The village of 400 families is largely made up of fisherfolk. We suspect they must have started eating the bids after being unable to catch fish due to the confiscations," said Sasikumar.
Poaching and selling of birds found in the 120 sq. km sanctuary is a known phenomenon, but those involved have hardly been caught, partly because just two beat-guards, two foresters and the DCF are posted there. Just one vehicle is kept for their use.