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Fish poaching poses threat to Harike ecosystem

Poaching of fish in the Harike Wetlands,where the World Wildlife Fund intends to conduct a bio-monitoring project,threatens to endanger the wildlife habitat in the sanctuary.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal |
December 7, 2010 11:56:30 pm

Poaching of fish in the Harike Wetlands,where the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) intends to conduct a bio-monitoring project,threatens to endanger the wildlife habitat in the sanctuary.

Information with The Indian Express reveals that in the last two months alone,authorities have booked five people under the Wildlife Protection Act for poaching and destruction of the wildlife habitat in Harike. In another case during this period,poachers gave wildlife officials the slip,leaving behind their boat and the paraphernalia required for fishing.

While fishing is allowed on contract basis outside the sanctuary area,it is illegal to fish inside the sanctuary.

On the intervening night of Friday and Saturday,a team of wildlife officials led by a range officer caught Gurdeep Singh and Dheera Singh,both residents of Harike,from the wetlands as the two were trying to escape in a manually rowed boat with 15 kilograms of poached fish.

“A case under various Sections of the Wildlife Protection Act was registered against Gurdeep and Dheera on Saturday. We suspect there were four more people. Further investigations are on,” said Ferozepur Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife) Sanjeev Tiwari.

“People from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,having expertise in such activities (of poaching),are colluding with the local gangs to commit the illegal act,” added Tiwari.

In November,three people had been booked under the Wildlife Protection Act,while in another case,the poachers managed to escape.

Sources said investigations by the wildlife department indicated that poachers would strike at night after anchoring their boats in an island-like place inside the sanctuary near their targeted area. The recovery of cooking utensils from a couple of islands revealed that the poachers came there for a long-term stay,added the sources.

There are more than 20 small islands in the Harike sanctuary spread over an area of 86 square metres. The growth of sarkanda (long grass-like vegetation) on such islands makes them safe havens for poachers.

“Fish poaching is a serious threat to the habitat in the wetlands. Poachers not only destruct the habitat while catching fish,they also restrict the migratory birds’ movement by their presence in the protected sanctuary,which is a prohibited area,” claimed Tiwari,adding: “We are making all efforts to check poaching.”

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