Maharashtra forest dept hires notorious hunter to 'trap, kill' Jalgaon leopard
Expert shooter Nawab Shafath Ali Khan, who has been embroiled in an arms deal case in the past, called to solve man-animal conflict in Jalgaon
In a move that has upset wildlife experts and activists alike, the Maharashtra Forest Department has hired Hyderabad-based hunter, Nawab Shafath Ali Khan, who was allegedly involved in an arms deal, to tackle the leopard that is said to be responsible for the death of six people in Chalisgaon tehsil near Jalgaon. On December 2, TN Salunke, chief conservator of forest, Dhule, had written a letter -- a copy of which is with mid-day -- authorising Khan for the job of "trapping/tranquilising/killing" of the dangerous leopard.
Nawab Shafat Ali Khan
Also Read: Woman Mauled To Death By Leopard In Jalgaon
The range forest officer DG Pawar shall assist you throughout the operation. Please carry your licensed weapons, tranquilising equipment and necessary drugs," the letter to Khan reads. The development, however, hasn't gone down well with wildlife experts. While many fear that Khan might end up killing the leopard instead of catching it alive, what has shocked most of them is the fact that the state forest department chose to hire a man with dubious history.
According to reports, the Karnataka Police had arrested Khan in 1991-92 for supplying weapons to Maoists, who operated along the Andhra Pradesh- Odisha border. Biologist and leopard expert Vidya Athreya said, "The state should have asked the commandos or police shooter to carry out the task instead of employing a hunter."
Nawab Shafat Ali Khan
Dr Sarita Subramanian, wildlife lover and social worker said, "Why can't they hire qualified, trained medical experts from neighbouring states like Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka to tranquillise big cats? Hiring shikaris is illegal."
On December 1, mid-day had reported how a team of more than 120 people were trying to capture the animal alive. Sources said that some members from the team are not too happy with the forest department's decision to hire Khan.
Nawab Shafat Ali Khan with his kills
When contacted, Mayur Kamath, honorary wildlife warden of Mumbai suburbs, said, "There are police personnel, SRPF and forest officers on duty. But, considering six precious lives have been lost already, nobody wants to take a chance. I think this decision has been taken as a desperate measure."
AK Misra, principal chief conservator of forest (PPCF) wildlife was unavailable for comment.
In August, Nawab Shafath Ali Khan felled a rogue elephant, which had killed 15 people in a series of attacks since March in Jharkhand. He was also involved in culling of around 500 wild boars in different ranges in Chandrapur range last year.
Catch up on all the latest Mumbai, National and International news here
Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from Mid-day.comSubscribe