Forest dept frowns on gun licences without its consent

In alleged violation of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, (WPA), Ramanagara and Bangalore Rural police have issued gun licences to around 70 people residing on the periphery of the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP), without the consent of the Forest department.

As per the WPA rules, no new licences can be issued to any individual residing within a 10-km range of a national park or tiger reserve, without the approval of the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW). 

No renewals can also be made without consulting the CWW. There is a provision under the Act that gun licence can be issued for crop protection and self-protection, but not without the consent of the forest department.

Forest department officials said that they had not recieved any application for the past two years for any licence or renewals. “A letter will be written to the Bangalore Rural and Ramanagara police officials to cancel the licence of all these 70 people who have been given permits, because the Forest department has not recieved any application. This is a violation of the rules,” the official said.

Obtaining permission to possess a firearm without the consent of the Forest department, if one is residing on the perihery of a forest, is a criminal offence.

Anupam Agarwal, Ramanagara District Superintendent of Police, said, “Forest department officials have still not approached us on the licence issue. 

But if the police have issued licences without consulting them and violated the rules, we will not hestitate to cancel all the licences. I will definitely look into the matter.”

A person with a gun licence shot down a 20-year-old female elephant in her heart from close range with a muzzleloader in Kodihalli range of the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) on Tuesday. Forest and police sleuths are investigating the case. They have narrowed down on two suspects. Both are farmers and absconding. Search is on, said an investigating officer. Licences should be issued wisely, he added.

The BNP forest is spread across 260.51 sqkm and houses around 99 elephants as per the 2012 elephant census. Kanakapura wildlife forest division spread across 45,000 hectares houses around 39 elephants. In order to keep straying wild elephants at bay, the Forest department constructs and maintains elephant-proof trenches and solar fences. 

The Forest department is setting up Depredation Camps, which will have the department officials and volunteers. They will have crackers and weapons to drive stray elephants back into the forest, the official said.

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