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SOS Rhino : In the News : Hunting still rampant in India

Hunting still rampant in India

  Sunday, 19 June , 2005, 11:30
Sify News

New Delhi: The hunters' guns ring out loud and clear in the many lush animal sanctuaries and forests across the country, despite legal ban that remains on paper, reports from across the PTI-bureaux say.

Hunting is common in Jhajjar, where Tiger Pataudi allegedly went for killing black bucks, as also in Gurgaon, Rewari, Bhiwani, Hisar and Sirsa in Haryana; in neighbouring Punjab, nearly 100 cases of hunting have been registered, while in Bihar, deer, rabbits and migratory birds are regularly hunted.

The highly-endangered one-horned rhino is the most hunted animal in Assam, and in Arunachal, a tribal-dominated state, people go for hunting in individual capacity as well as organised manner.

"The law bans hunting, but three types of hunting goes on in the country - for meat purposes by villagers, sport hunting and thirdly by foreigners in the garb of wildlife tours and expeditions," says Ashok Kumar, trustee, Wildlife Trust of India.

"Sport hunting is reasonably prevalent and the main reason for this is that while the government banned it, it did not take away private ownership of hunting weapons," says Kumar, noting the law needs to be changed if we are to stop hunting.

"As of today, the law is not a real deterrent, The conviction rate is very low. In one 1993 case, charges have just been framed," says Kumar.

"The punishment for violation of the law is still not widely known, especially in hinterland, where wild animals are found. The forest guards and foresters, even in sanctuaries and national parks are not trained in how to use this law.

"Finally, the legal process is so choked that a court case takes more than a decade to get even the first judgement," says Kumar, citing the Salman Khan case, which has been going on since 1998. "If such cases are tried in fast track courts and the guilty are booked, it could act as deterrent for others."

But since this is not happening, Kumar says, "A new class of hot-blood young rich has emerged. Sport hunting has become the macho thing to do since the belief is that if you have money and connections, you are beyond the reach of law."

Eight persons were arrested in Bihar in last one year for indulging in illegal hunting of deer, rabbits and migratory birds, says Hemchandra Sirshi, Secretary, Enviornment and Forests, Bihar.

However, he says, "Nowhere, in the state people are allowed to pursue it as a sport. But few people sneak into Bettiah and Bharua reserve forests for hunting."

According to reports available, in Punjab, the wildlife department has so far registered over 100 cases of hunting, says Gurmeet Singh, Punjab's deputy director, Wildlife.

In Haryana, 16 blue bulls have been killed by hunters since 1997 and according to state's chief wildlife warden, K L Minhas, cases of hunting were reported from Gurgaon, Rewari, Mahendragarh,iwani, Hisar, Jhajjar and Sirsa.

Poaching is reported frequently in Madhya Pradesh, which has nine national parks and 25 wildlife sanctuaries. Between 1998 and 2004, as many as 28 cases of tiger poaching and 76 cases of poaching of leopards had been registered, especially in Seoni district of the state.

In Rajasthan, 58 FIRs have been filed by activists against hunters in various police stations, but they still lie unattended. According to Chief Wildlife Warden R N Mehrotra, poaching of tigers, leopard, deer, sambhar, Chinkara and peacock is reported in the state.

Fourteen people were arrested for trying to smuggle sharks from the Bay of Bengal last month while two persons were arrested and few thousand endangered Paddyfield Pippit were released when the bird meat was being served at a feast in West Bengal.

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