By Lalit Mohan
The Wildlife Department has failed to supply bullets for fire arms to its staff. Sources here said arms of the Wildlife Department were registered in the name of the Chief Wildlife Department. As per the Arms Act, only the person in whose name the arms are registered can buy the ammunition. Now, lower wildlife officials have written to the Chief Wildlife Warden to buy bullets for them. Sources said the department purchased double-barrel, single-barrel 12-bore rifles and revolvers for the protection of their staff on duty to check poaching. No bullets have been purchased for guns. A wildlife official said, “Sometimes we sling guns on our shoulders while patrolling in forest areas just to scare away the poachers. However, if they come to know that we do not have bullets, the poachers may attack us.” Wildlife officials said the department did not allow them to buy bullets as they feared it might be difficult for them to face criminal cases if guns were fired in encounters with poachers or otherwise. “The guns are no more than sticks and we are fortunate that the poachers do not know it,” said a wildlife official in the field. Former Principal Chief Conservator, Wildlife, Himachal, Lalit Mohan had told The Tribune that nobody had informed the head office that no bullets were available for the guns. He had said now that the matter had been brought to his notice, bullets would be purchased after following the due procedure. The Wildlife Department also has the shortage of staff and vehicles. Most Forest Department officials prefer posting in territorial or Forest Department. Guards posted in the Wildlife Department are those who are nearing retirement. In the Pong Wildlife Sanctuary in Kangra district that extends across 327 sq km, there are just 12 forest guards and rangers. The post of the DFO, Wildlife, is in Hamirpur and not at the Pong Dam. The Bharatpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajasthan that is spread across just about 30 sq km, there are 30 forest guards. It also has the post of Assistant Conservator of Forests. In the name of vehicles, the Wildlife Department in the Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary has just a Gypsy and a motorcycle.