Wildlife photos on Facebook: Officials identify armed gang

Wildlife photos on Facebook: Officials identify armed gang

Officials of the Forest department and CID Forest Cell have interrogated one of the six men who had posted his photograph with weapons and Black Naped Hare (a protected wild animal), on Facebook.

The forest in the photographs has been identified as Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Kodagu.

Photographs of a group of six young men carrying weapons inside the forest and holding wild animals had gone viral on social media, last week. The team has questioned Darshan Pandey, who has uploaded 30 such photographs on his Facebook page. 

The group had entered the forest without permission on January 12 and the photographs were uploaded on January 14.

The sleuths of CID Forest Cell are tracking the movements of Pandey and his friends.

Jagmohan Sharma, Chief Conservator of Forests, Kodagu Circle, Madikeri, who has been investigating the case told Deccan Herald that they had been probing the incident ever since the photographs surfaced on Facebook. 

“We want to confirm some more details before booking cases under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Arms Act,” he said.

It has been established that the six men were not accompanied by any forest official.

“The Kodagu belt of Pushpagiri forests is fragmented. We have to confirm ourselves whether the spot where photographs are taken is inside or outside the forest. The dogs in the photographs are village dogs. We have spoke to Pandey.
Details of the taxi and the driver have also been collected,” Sharma said.Dead or alive? Pandey has claimed that the hare he was holding was caught by dogs. 

However, it is yet to be established whether the animal is dead or alive. It has been found that the men were roaming in the forest with air guns and single-bore guns. The single-bore gun belongs to a villager who is not in the photograph.

“It is yet to be confirmed whether the arms were licensed or not. Kodavas enjoy exemption under Arms Act. Preliminary investigations show that the men are not habitual offenders. But, the probability of poaching cannot be ruled out,”  Sharma added.

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