Poaching surges as wildfires force animals out of forestsIllegal hunting activities are being reported from Chetanagar, Chandrapur, Gaidatar, Rangapur, and Balari forest areas of Rautahat district.
Two months ago, a severely injured blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) was rescued from the Bakaiya riverside in the Junglesaiya forest in Rautahat. Forest officials sent the injured animal to Parsa National Park for treatment.
“The blue bull had several injuries on its body. It had been speared in several places including in the head and hump,” said Ram Prasad Sah, information officer of the Division Forest Office, Rautahat. “Hunters use nets, traps and homemade weapons to trap and attack wild animals that leave the forest.”
Several of Rautahat’s forests were engulfed by wildfires in the past few months. The start of the wildfire season saw an increase in illegal poaching and hunting activities in forest areas, Sunil Kumar Karna, head of the Division Forest Office told the Post. “Wild animals tend to leave the forest grounds fleeing the fires which makes it easier for poachers to trap and kill them,” said Karna.
According to the forest office, three loaded guns were recovered from the Chocha and BalariKhor National Forest areas five months ago. Similarly, on April 15, three more guns were recovered from the same forest areas.
On April 21, Ek Bahadur Jargha Magar of Gaidatar village, Chandrapur Municipality Ward 3, was arrested for killing a wild boar. Magar and four others were arrested with dead wild boars from his house. A case has been filed against them under the Wildlife Act, according to the forest office.
Forests in Rautahat are home to tigers, blue bulls, deer, wild boars, elephants, and monkeys, among others, according to the forest office. Illegal poaching activities are being reported from Chetanagar, Chandrapur, Gaidatar, Rangapur, and Balari forest areas. A total of 29,400 hectares is forest in Rautahat.
Hunting activities have increased especially in Chetanagar, Chandrapur, Gaidatar, Rangapur, and Balari forest areas.
Locals living near forest areas also say that they have recovered several nets and traps in the forests and areas close to human settlements where the animals fleeing fire tend to escape to. According to some locals, the poachers and hunters work in cahoots with some of the locals to find ideal spots to set traps for wild animals.
“In the last couple of months I have recovered several nets and traps in the forest,” said a local of Balarikhor, Brindawan Municipality Ward 1. “I informed the forest officials and they removed the traps.”
“Humans and animals always cross paths in this area,” said Ramchandra Khadel, former secretary of the Ministry of Forest, Madhesh Province. “This year the animals are escaping the forests to avoid wildfires. This has led to an increase in poaching activities. Wild animals enter the fields and human settlements for food, water, and safety. Upon seeing them so close to human settlements in a vulnerable state, not only poachers but locals also kill them.”
Karna says the forest office plans to mobilise a special team of security personnel in the forests to stop illegal activities. “We will increase security in the forests and monitor the entry and exit points,” he said. “We also need to sensitise the locals about the need to protect the animals in the forests.”