After two poachers were nabbed at the Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS) for killing a wild boar, there are now fears that the 75 deer released into the forest in 2009 might have also been preyed upon. There have been no recent sightings of deer in the area.

Pelhar Dam at Tungareshwar wildlife sanctuary, where the two poachers were caught after they killed a wild boar
Pelhar Dam at Tungareshwar wildlife sanctuary, where the two poachers were caught after they killed a wild boar

The two poachers, Ramesh Balu Chawre (28) and Rohidas Dhondiba Pawar (41), were arrested by a patrolling team of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in the wee hours of Friday. The duo was part of a six-man team of hunters; a search is on for the remaining four, who managed to flee. The forest department (FD) recovered the body parts of the boar.

The rifle with which the animal was hunted
The rifle with which the animal was hunted

Tip-off
A source informed SGNP and TWS patrolling teams that the two were going to hunt the boar near Pelhar Dam. Both teams started a foot search operation around 10 pm, and around 1.15 am, the duo was apprehended.

mid-day has written about illegal poaching at TWS in the past (‘Who fired five gunshots at night in poacher-infested Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary’, April 21, 2012).

With the recent arrest, wildlife experts feel that a majority of the deer released from the BMC park in Powai in 2009 (see box) might’ve also been hunted, since no deer have been seen recently. The last sighting was in 2011, said a local villager requesting anonymity.

Krishna Tiwari, of the Forest and Wildlife Conservation Centre (FWCC), an NGO, said, “More than 70 deer were released into TWS from BMC Powai park. It was expected that their population would increase.

But deer sightings today are nil. This arrest is not only a concern for the FD, but also for wildlife lovers, because if proper measures are not taken, there can be a serious threat to wild animals like leopards which are the main predators of TWS.”

Sunish Subramaniam, from Plants & Animals Welfare Society, added, “We had opposed moving the deer to TWS, because we knew it wasn’t a safe place.

Authorities have been unable to remove a religious encroachment even after court orders; expecting them to protect animals from wild animals is a big thing.” Both asked for round-the-clock patrolling, especially near Pelhar Dam, to curb poaching.