In the wake of a suspected poaching case, where a carcass of a leopard was found at Shilonda trail inside Sanjay Gandhi National Park around two weeks back, the forest department arrested seven people from Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary for allegedly poaching wild animals.

However, 13 people managed to escape from the site. The official seized two guns from the poachers. After the incident, the forest department had increased the patrolling in the park and had launched a massive manhunt to nab the poachers.

Official speak
The sanctuary falls between Virar and Vasai and is home to several varieties of flora and fauna. Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF), Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, Uday Dhage, said, “We had received a tip off that a few people had entered the forest to kill the wild animals. Immediately, we formed a team of 10 men and reached the waterhole near Chondicha Paani area, near Rajavali village at around 5 pm. At the spot, we heard some noises that were being made to scare the animal.”

He added, “As we wanted to catch them red-handed, we decided to take them by surprise by entering the scene from behind. So, we walked through rocky patches and saw four of them hiding near the water hole. As soon as they saw us, they started running. However, we managed to capture seven people and recovered two guns. It is unfortunate that 13 of them managed to run away. We are confident that those people will also be caught soon.”

The accused were produced before the court and were sent to forest custody till December 30, wherein the forest department officials are interrogating them.

Later, they will be produced before court and the further course of action for the case will be decided.

Sources say investigations are on and the accused have admitted that they had gone to kill a wild boar. The authorities are trying to ascertain their role in the recent leopard incident.

The accused have been booked under several sections, including setting fire in wild, hunting, trespassing of Indian Forest Act 1927, as well as sections under Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and Arms Act 1959.