Forest officers in Kerala arrested six persons in connection with the hunting of a pregnant Indian bison, an animal protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
The incident was reported in the jurisdiction of the Chakkikuzhi station of Kalikavu Range of Nilambur South forest division.
Close to midnight on August 10, forest officers, following a tip-off, raided the house of first accused Abu and came upon nearly 25 kilograms of wild meat. The accused meanwhile had slipped away. In the next few days, the officials got information of the involvement of five more men in the hunting of the wild bison.
“At first, we couldn’t identify the meat that we found at the residence of the accused. We initially thought it was that of a sambar deer. Later, we got confirmation that it was that of a bison. Once we caught the first accused, it led us to the site of the hunting where we found the animal’s skull and bones. Nearby, we also found remains of the fetus,” said Suresh P, range forest officer of Kalikavu Range.
The site where the animal was killed was about one kilometre inside the forest from a rubber estate on the fringes of which the accused stay in a settlement. Bisons do not usually come out of the forest area or stray near human settlements in that region, he said.
The officer confirmed that all six accused in the case have been arrested and charged under various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act for hunting a wild animal and trading its meat. They have been remanded in judicial custody. A gun, allegedly belonging to the first accused Abu and used in the shooting of the animal, has been retrieved, he said.
The Indian bison, commonly referred to as gaur in the northern parts of the country, is listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List.