Aarey Colony, regularly in the news as the battleground between green warriors and those pushing for development, lost a beloved resident recently, as Chandni, a six-year-old female leopard was found dead in a poacher’s trap.
A front-page report in this paper yesterday stated that the big cat had escaped from a wire snare in 2014 but lost her life in a similar trap a couple of weeks ago. This is the first poaching death in Aarey, and if the poachers have their way, there could be more casualties. Aarey is home to at least seven leopards and other wildlife as well, and Chandni’s death should serve as a warning bell for the authorities who are now confronted with a serious poaching menace. It is clear that poachers have become much bolder — just 20 feet from the spot where Chandni got trapped, forest officials found yet another trap and deactivated it. This paper had also reported just last month that volunteers had found two snares in Aarey. Chandni’s death shows that the poachers’ efforts are now bearing fruit.
Vigilance needs to be stepped up with immediate effect. The authorities must enlist the help of locals who know the terrain best. Simply announcing rewards for those giving information about poachers will not do. Give definite information about what amount this reward will be, and put up posters announcing this around the area. Form a team of citizens who can be the eyes and ears of Aarey. They can be the first point of contact about any suspicious activity and poaching attempts at Aarey. Once a poacher is caught, he can be a minefield of information about where these snares are set up, who is involved and the modus operandi.
Finally, our laws for poachers need to be harsh and penalties stricter, so that they act as an effective deterrent. Punitive action needs to be quick and effective and poachers need to feel the sting. We have to outpace poachers and up our methods to combat this problem. Let Chandni’s tragic death be the catalyst for more aggressive anti-poaching measures.