Now, dirt bikers scare wildlife in Tungareshwar

Updated: Feb 12, 2020, 08:32 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Wildlife enthusiast spots bikers racing on the mud track inside the sanctuary in the early morning hours; records video and hands it over to city-based NGO

A screenshot from the video in which the bikers are seen racing on 
the mud track inside Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary
A screenshot from the video in which the bikers are seen racing on the mud track inside Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary

Almost five months after an ashram inside Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS) was demolished following a Supreme Court order, the protected area is once again facing a threat — this time from illegal dirt biking. While on a walk inside the sanctuary on February 9, a wildlife lover spotted a couple of bikers racing on the mud track. With the video of the act that he recorded going viral on social media, the authorities concerned have now started looking for the bikers.

City-based NGO Empower Foundation informed the Forest Department demanding action against those involved in dirt biking inside the sanctuary. Founder of Empower Foundation, Jalpesh Mehta, told mid-day, "It is the joint responsibility of citizens and state government to protect the forests. Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is a hidden gem and the Forest Department has been playing a very important role in conserving it. Citizens should also play their roles to protect wildlife and the environment."

The sanctuary, located on the northern side of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) is popular among wildlife enthusiasts and naturalists for birding.

The person who recorded the video has also taken a screenshot of one of the bikersThe person who recorded the video has also taken a screenshot of one of the bikers

The nature lover, who visited the area on Sunday, was shocked to see that the mud track inside the sanctuary, which runs to the top of the mountain, was being used for dirt bike racing. For over a year now, environmental activists have been complaining about how bikers practise track rides inside the sanctuary during weekends, which not only endangers wildlife but also disturbs the natural environment. Forest Department sources said that they were trying to find out whether the bikers are associated with any dirt biking clubs in the city.

Also, anyone who enters the sanctuary needs to pay an entry fee at the gate. Hence, the authorities are checking the entry log for the day when the bikers were spotted. The person who recorded the video has also taken a screenshot of one of the bikes in which the vehicle's registration number (MH47-AR-5892) is visible. The bike is registered in the name of Bhavesh Bangera.

The person who recorded the video has also taken a screenshot of one of the bikers, in which the vehicle’s registration number is visibleThe person who recorded the video has also taken a screenshot of one of the bikers, in which the vehicle's registration number is visible

Chief conservator of forest and SGNP director, Anwar Ahmed, said, "One person has been taken into custody. We are looking for the others."

'Lack of awareness is evident'

Mayur Kamat, honorary wildlife warden of Mumbai suburbs and member of State Wildlife Board

'Young bikers riding through a protected wildlife area in the early morning hours is sad. Lack of
awareness about our local wildlife and their habitats is evident through such acts. The department needs to increase vigilance and investigate these incidents. Action also needs to
be taken'

Kedar Gore,Kedar Gore, wildlife conservationist from The Corbett Foundation

'I saw the video of dirt bike racing inside Tungareshwar and it is terrible. The department should take action against those involved and the sanctity of the protected area must be maintained. Such activities can be undertaken elsewhere but certainly not inside a sanctuary or national park'

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