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Arms shocker from arrested poacher

A cache of arms seized in Garo hills. File picture

Shillong, Nov. 24: Statistics furnished by the office of range forest officer, Nongpoh wildlife range, in Meghalaya’s Ri Bhoi district reveal what nowhere else in India one will probably come across — more than 350 licensed weapons surrounding one protected reserve forest, not to talk about the unlicensed ones.

These statistics have emerged in the wake of capture of an alleged poacher from the Nongkhyllem reserve forest.

Last night, one Marles Mukhim of Umtasor village was apprehended inside the Lumkdait forest, which is within the precincts of the Nongkhyllem reserve forest, a forest official of Nongpoh wildlife range said.

A squad of the Nongpoh wildlife protection unit apprehended Mukhim, the official said. From Mukhim’s possession, the squad recovered a single-barrel muzzle loading licensed gun, cartridges and porcupine meat.

According to statistics, Nongkhyllem reserve forest, excluding an area of 29 square km notified as Nongkhyllem wildlife sanctuary, covers an area of 96.91 square km.

The official said according to a report, people residing on the fringes of the reserve forest often use their licensed weapons to illegally hunt inside the protected areas teeming with wildlife by using the easy porous accessibility to the forest areas from the villages.

The official said four units of anti-poaching squads, comprising forest guards, homeguards, local trackers and others have been camping and trying to counter the threat especially at night.

At the same time, the dorbar shnong (village council) of Umtasor, Kynjoin Umran, Umksih, Myrdon Mawtari, Myrdon Nongbah, Nongmahir, Nongkseh, Sohjirang, Nongkynrih, Nongbirlum, Tasku, Umsohma, Lailad Rim, Umling, Mawdiangum, Saiden, Shangbangla and others have been apprised of the situation since there is a huge number of licensed weapon holders in these villages, the official said.

“Records have shown that 90 per cent of arms seized so far from poachers inside the protected forests are licensed weapons. If the local institutions do not comply, then it would be inevitable that for weapons like SBBL, DBBL, SBML, DBML and rifles of all calibres, licences should be stopped from being renewed, declared government property and surrendered at the nearest police station,” the official said.

He stressed the importance of sensitising people on endangered wildlife as “nowhere else in India would you find more than 350 licensed weapons surrounding one single protected reserve not mentioning about the unlicensed ones,” the official said.

Village council warning: The Wapungskur village council in East Jaintia Hills has issued a warning against hunters who try to intrude into the forest located in the village. Wapungskur village headman Satly Ryngkhlem, in a statement, warned people from coming to the village forest for hunting animals.

“In the past few years, animals, including birds of all forms, have once again chosen the village forest as their habitat. As a step to preserve these animals, the village council strictly warns hunters from coming to the forest,” Ryngkhlem said.

The village council has warned people against cutting down trees from the village forest and said those who violate the orders would be dealt with firmly. The council has offered incentives to anyone who passes on information about the presence of hunters or those who have come to fell tress.