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Regular-article-logo Monday, 17 June 2024

Sunderban arrest lifts lid on deer meat racket

The forest department had got a tip-off about a group hunting animals and selling their meat

Debraj Mitra Calcutta Published 06.09.20, 05:23 AM
The 40-year-old man has confessed to being part of a racket that killed the deer after catching it using a snare in a forest a couple of days ago, the forest official said.

The 40-year-old man has confessed to being part of a racket that killed the deer after catching it using a snare in a forest a couple of days ago, the forest official said. Shutterstock

A man was arrested in a Sunderbans village in the early hours of Saturday with deer meat, a forest department official said.

The 40-year-old man has confessed to being part of a racket that killed the deer after catching it using a snare in a forest a couple of days ago, the forest official said.

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The killing took place in the Ajmalmari forest, around 5km from the Kultali Block in South 24-Parganas.

In April last year, the rotten carcass of a tiger was found in the same forest. An investigation had revealed it got caught in a similar snare — a trap to catch an animal by using a noose of wires and a bait — and died of starvation.

The forest department got a tip-off about a group hunting animals and selling their meat. A raid last week had drawn a blank, the official said.

A couple of days ago, a forest department official went to meet the group disguised as a buyer of meat.

After being sure of their presence, a house in Baikanthapur village in the Kultali Block was raided early on Saturday.

“One person was arrested. We found 13kg of deer meat with him. He is part of a larger group. We are interrogating him for more details,” the divisional forest officer of South 24-Parganas said.

The operation was conducted with the help of cops from Maipith coastal police station, he said.

Hunting and eating deer meat can lead to three years in jail, a wildlife official said.

The killing has brought to the fore the menace of poachers of small animals in villages in the Sunderbans.

After the tiger’s carcass was found last year, similar snares were seized from adjoining forests.

People of the villages are involved in the racket of selling deer and wild boar meat, a forest department official said. Forest officials often face resistance in trying to arrest someone after a raid because of the involvement of villagers.

Forest officials had been assaulted when they had gone to a village to arrest some of the suspects, a fortnight after the discovery of the tiger carcass.

The group that had set up the snare comprised mostly villagers. More than 100 villagers had attacked the forest team.

A few arrests had followed the assault.

“We will arrest all those involved in the killing of the deer. I have spoken with senior police officers. There will be more raids in the coming days,” V.K. Yadav, the chief wildlife warden of Bengal, said.

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