Officials in Nalsarovar said that at meetings between senior officials on Monday, it was decided to have watchtowers in three sensitive villages - Darji, Ranagadh and Vekariya. These have sizeable populations and notorious for the poaching of birds. In all, about 9000 people in these villages hunt and eat wild animals.
The meeting was held after two people from Ranagadh village were caught with 60 coots that had been trapped and whose legs and wings were broken to keep them from escaping.
Sources in the department said that against the sanctioned strength of 12, there are just six staffers - including the deputy conservator of forests and assistant conservator of forests. With just half the sanctioned strength, officials have to keep watch over 1.5 lakh winged visitors and thousands of tourists to the wetland spread over 120.82 sq km.
"There are only three guards to secure the highly sensitive site, which has communities known for poaching living nearby," said a source. It was decided at the meeting that staff strength would be increased to ensure illegal activities are monitored efficiently.
Secret fund underway
Ahmedabad: It takes a horrific incident of poaching for the state government to loosen its purse strings. Unlike the police department, the forest department did not have a provision for any such secret funding. The poaching of 60 coots was enough for the state to allocate funds for Nalsarovar. An information network will be created with that money.
It was after the poaching of eight lions in April 2007 that the state government allocated funds for Gir Sanctuary. Officials said that a special secret fund will also be set up for Thol. "There is a need for such special funds in all the sanctuaries, but the government rarely makes any provisions. These will help officials keep a check on not just poaching, but also on the movement of suspicious persons.
Not surrendered yet
Forest officials have arrested Kadar Khamasa and Valli Mohammed, residents of Jambu village in Limbdi taluka of Surendranagar, but have been unable to trace those who supplied coots to the duo. The two had applied for bail but their pleas were rejected. This in turn, proved a deterrent from surrender for the others. The remaining four accused had promised to surrender but once bail was denied, they have now gone missing along with their families.