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Nagaland crackdown on wildlife hunters

Jorhat, Dec. 18: The Nagaland government has launched a massive crackdown on hunting and sale of wildlife and seized several rare animals and birds from hunters from various parts of Kohima in the past few days.

“Hunting of wildlife increases just before Christmas and New Year as hunters want to make money for the celebrations. We have intensified our operations against sale of wildlife in markets and roadsides,” divisional forest officer of Kohima forest range Beizo Suokhrie told The Telegraph today.

The department seized two live monitor lizards besides carcasses of four civet cats and many jungle fowls during raids conducted in various parts of Kohima in the past few days.

While the two monitor lizards were handed over to the Nagaland Zoological Park in Dimapur, the carcasses were disposed of by burning.

Suokhrie said despite various efforts being made by the department to curb hunting and sale of wildlife, killing and sale of animals and birds continue in the state. “We have noticed that hunting of wildlife increases during the dry season, especially during the Christmas,” the forest official said.

A study conducted by the Empowerment of People through Economic Development a few years back stated that November, December, January and February account for 62 per cent of the killings of wildlife in Nagaland. “These four months are dry season providing an ideal setting for hunting and these are also festive seasons with Christmas and the New Year celebrations,” the study stated.

The study conducted in Phek district bordering Kohima said a total of 68,628 animals and birds had been killed in 17 sample villages in the district by 293 hunters in 2008.

“Hunting has long been known as a primary cause of wildlife species depletion in tropical forests and the problem has increased exponentially,” the study said.

Suokhrie said this year, the forest department had decided to erect checkpoints on the main thoroughfares of Kohima. “We have also intensified patrolling on the roads and are conducting frequent raids at marketplaces,” Suokhrie said.

The forest department has appealed to people to refrain from hunting wild animals and birds and instead take up the cause of conservation. It has appealed to all to “let this festive season go by unblemished and unmarred by cruel killings of what has remained our wildlife”.

Principal chief conservator of forests M. Lokeswara Rao said the forest department had been conducting awareness meetings in villages urging people to give up hunting.

“We have also been telling the villagers about the laws under the Wildlife Protection Act which could lead up to a fine of Rs 25,000 and jail term for anyone found indulging in hunting,” he said.

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