Poachers lead the boat in the forests of Rautahat for lack of surveillance

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An injured Blue Bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) was found last Thursday near the Bakya River in the forest of Chandranigahapur Division in Dewahi Gonahi Municipality, Rautahat.

The forest of Chandranigahapur division spans the 18 municipalities of Rautahat and is divided into seven sub-sectors: Chetnagar, Judibela, Hiley Khola, Dhansar, Jungle Saiya, Chocha and Banbohari. The head office of the Divisional Forestry Office is located in Chandranigahapur Municipality.

The injured bull was rescued by a joint team of forest officers and local police and sent to Parsa National Park for treatment and rehabilitation. The place where the injured bull was found is about 115 km from the national park.

According to Amar Dev Yadav, acting head of the division’s forestry office, the bull was injured by spears in the eyes and in the back.

The attacker must have injured the bull as it grazed near the Bakya River, Yadav said. “The injured blue bull is being treated at Parsa National Park and will be released inside the park after it recovers,” Yadav said.

“We are aware of illegal poaching activities in the region, but the departmental forest alone cannot resist armed poachers. Although our rangers monitor forest areas, it is not possible to track all activities in the forest,” he said.

According to the Division’s Bureau of Forestry, poachers have been setting up ambushes using guns, spears and traps to capture blue bulls, wild boar, deer and other wildlife coming out of the forest and head for the nearest fields to graze.

“The blue bull is hunted for its meat. Poachers sell its meat in the local market as deer meat,” Yadav said. “A week and a half ago, a forest patrol team in the Chetnagar region came across a group of armed poachers with a dead wild boar. They were killing the bull when we found them.

According to residents of Chetnagar region, poachers kill wildlife every day and are most active in the western part of the forest in Chandranigahapur division.

“During this season, wild animals, including the blue bull, wild boar and deer, come out of the forest to graze in the pastures. That’s when poachers hunt them,” Yadav said.

Rautahat civil society leader Saput Bahadur Karki demands strict measures against poachers for wildlife conservation in forest areas.

“We cannot control illegal activities in the forest unless we take strict measures against poachers and those who sell wild animal parts. Wild animals are killed every day and the shops sell their meat in the open air. This butchery must stop,” Karki said.

According to Karki, a meeting was recently held between Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police at the Divisional Forestry Office to discuss possible measures to combat wildlife poaching in the forest. But the meeting did not yield tangible results, he said.

“They only talked about the issue but didn’t decide on concrete steps to stop poaching in the forests,” he said.

According to forestry officials, a month ago three hunting rifles were recovered from the Chocha and Banbohari forest areas. Several wild animals were slaughtered although the forestry office has no data on the actual number of slaughters. On April 15, 2021, a logging crew had recovered three shotguns from the same area.

The availability of weapons has encouraged poachers to continue their illegal activities, says Amar Dev Yadav of the Division’s Forestry Office.

“Unless the authorities limit the production and use of illegal weapons, it will be difficult to arrest the poachers,” Yadav said.

Twenty years ago, Dron Prasad Neupane, a non-commissioned officer in the armed rangers, and Bhoj Bahadur Ghimire, a ranger in the former District Forestry Office of Chandranigahapur Municipality, were shot dead by poachers.

“The rangers are not equipped to deal with armed poachers,” Yadav said. “The surveillance of forest areas is a risky task and requires the intervention of armed security personnel. The dry season, when forests experience wildfires, is when poachers are most active. Wildfires push animals out of the forest canopy and into the open, exposing them to lurking poachers. Immediate action must be taken if we are to prevent poachers from killing wildlife in this dry season.

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