TO DEVELOP a stronger network to fight against organised wildlife crime, such as hunting and poaching, the short-staffed anti-poaching unit of Thane will reach out to citizens through social media.
The anti-poaching unit, which till last year had only one deputy forest officer, will now have a dedicated helpline number, email ID, volunteers to track social media for illegal wildlife trade, among others. The decision was made in a meeting with local NGOs – Thane SPCA, PAWS Mumbai, WIR, SARRP, WWA and RAWW and the honorary Wildlife Wardens of Mumbai and Thane.
Mumbai, Thane and surrounding districts are a massive market for illegal pets and hubs for wildlife trade. The unit in the last few years has noticed a shift and illegal trade business to be more active on social media.
The unit lacks proper infrastructure, such as forensic technology, and has no power to retrieve the call detail records of suspected smugglers. Officials do not receive any training to track websites of illegal animal trade. The unit is heavily dependent on NGOs for volunteer work, rescue centres and treatment facilities.
The anti-poaching unit of Thane covers Pune, Kolhapur and Thane circles, including Mumbai. It coordinates with the conservator of forest (wildlife) in Thane who provides staffers. Due to staff shortage, it works in tandem with the Crime Branch of Mumbai Police to make arrests. The conservator of forest (wildlife), Thane, has only two guards and one forester attached to the anti-poaching unit.
On Thursday, Thane forest officials seized 62 rose-ringed parakeets, 12 plum-headed parakeets, seven squirrels and 13 rabbits from Anand Nagar toll naka in Mulund.
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