The forest department in Uttarakhand’s Almora region, on Tuesday, filed an FIR (first information report) against villagers from Inlo in Almora district for allegedly killing a giant devil catfish, which is a “near threatened” species. The catfish, which the locals call “Gauchch”, was allegedly killed by few villagers, on Monday. The forest department, however, found out about the alleged hunting, on Tuesday. While the villagers denied hunting the fish, there is video evidence showing that few people from Inlo had killed the fish.
The fish is mentioned in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, showing that the species requires utmost protection. However, when the fish was seen in Inlo, where it is rarely spotted in the area where the village is located, the villagers hunted it. Almora Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) S R Prajapati said that the catfish would have been swept from the Kalagarh dam (also in the Ramganga river) to the village with the heavy water flow along the Ramganga river.
“The Ranger, Sanchita Verma, and the Sub Divisional Officer, Chandan Giri Goswami, are in the village… An FIR has been filed in the Bhikiyasain revenue police office against unknown persons for allegedly killing the fish,” Prajapati said, adding that appropriate action will be taken against the hunters under Section 9 of the wildlife protection act, which prohibits hunting of any wild animal specified in Schedules I, II, III and IV of the Wildlife Protection Act.