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Traditional poachers are wielding high quality guns, poison to hunt new species, says expert .
Traditional poachers are wielding high quality guns, poison to hunt new species, says expert .

Joblessness prompts poachers to switch modus operandi

  • Poaching for trade doubled during the lockdown, a report shows

Growing joblessness is prompting wildlife poachers to invest in more firepower, including high quality guns and poison that leaves the valuable animal skin unblemished.

According to a report by an inter-governmental organization, unemployment caused by the lockdown has led to an increase in poaching. This has raised the need for proactive measures such as providing alternative livelihood and spreading awareness which need to be taken up along with tightening of law enforcement.

Last week, forest officials in Karnataka arrested four people who were allegedly planning to poach wild animals in a forest near Hiriyur. Officials also seized high quality equipment including guns, archery sets, gas cylinders, pressure pumps and high-powered flashlights for hunting. Over the last few years, there have been incidents of professional shooters also being caught for poaching.

“These new age poachers have added another layer of complexity for wildlife law enforcement agencies. These are not regular poachers who are killing wildlife to earn some money by their sale. Rather these are people who are killing protected wild animal for the thrill of it. They are generally educated, affluent and well aware about the legalities. Tackling them is a bigger challenge," Saket Badola, Indian Forest Service, country head of TRAFFIC India said.

“Traditional poachers may not have modernized their tools but have changed their modus operandi. Earlier, they would kill big cats using guns or traps but are now using poison because it doesn’t leave any mark on the trophy and is less riskier to use. Similarly the market dynamics are also changing. Today there is a bigger market for tiger bones than its skin," Badola added.

According to a report by TRAFFIC, a wildlife monitoring network, incidents of poaching for trade and consumption had doubled during the lockdown. According to the report, the lockdown period saw 222 people being arrested for poaching activities, compared to 80 pre-lockdown.

Badola said poachers are also targeting new species and in case of old species, going after new products. For example, poachers are now targeting elephants not just for their tusks but also for their skin.

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