Himachal protector turns poacher, then absconds

February 10th, 2009 - 1:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Feb 10 (IANS) The hunt is on for a forest department official who is accused of hunting two migratory bar-headed geese near the famous Pong dam wetlands in Himachal Pradesh, officials said Tuesday.

Forest guards Sunday came across their beat officer Des Raj in the area, carrying a gun and dead birds. Apprehending arrest, he disappeared from the scene, leaving behind his gun and two dead migratory birds.

“Forest beat officer Des Raj, who is accused of hunting two migratory birds, is still at large. We have been raiding his residence and office. We have reported the issue to higher authorities too,” Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife) S.K. Guleria told IANS.

Meanwhile, the postmortem report of the birds proved that they died of pellet injuries.

“Pellets recovered from the carcasses established that they (birds) were shot dead,” Guleria said. He said the gun and the pellets had been sent to a forensic laboratory to establish if they were shot dead from the seized gun.

The gregarious bar-headed goose is listed under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. It feeds at night in grasslands on riverbanks and breeds in high-altitude lakes in Central Asia, including Tibet and Ladakh. Its wild population is believed to be declining globally due to hunting.

The bar-headed goose is a regular winter visitor to Pong wetlands. It starts arriving here in October and stays till March-end.

As per the census conducted by the state wildlife wing this month in Pong area, there were around 23,000 bar-headed geese in the area this winter.

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