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DEHRADUN: Another poacher was caught with 7.5 kg scales of Pangolin from Harbartpur Vikasnagar by Special Task Force, police and forest staff on Sunday. The accused, Hemraj of Himachal Pardesh, was going to Haridwar to hand over the consignment to an animal parts dealer of Nepal. 

On being questioned, Hemraj admitted killing two pangolins in the jungles of Timli forest range near Dehradun. He also shared significant details about Pangolin poaching network operating in various cities of Punjab, Himachal Pardesh, Uttar Pardesh and Nepal. 

Just two days back on Friday, a forest team of Rajaji National Park had raided a house in Sapera Basti near Kuthal gate with and recovered 4 kg of Pangolin meat. 

Forest officials said, Pangolins — small scaly ant-eater — which are endangered species under Wildlife Protection Act are being poached rampantly. The animals' scales have great demand in Nepal and China. 

This is the reason why villagers living near forest fringes are using their skills and dogs to dig out pangolins from their burrows and kill them. The scales easily fetch around Rs 30-35,000 per kg. Last year, 40 kg of Pangolin scales were recovered from poachers in the Kansrao range of Rajaji by forest rangers. STF confiscated 10 kg of Pangolin scales and arrested one poacher in Bhaniawala near RNP two months ago. 

After collecting the scales, they are sold to bigger poaching gangs who transport it to China via Nepal. In the international market, the scales costs $5,000 per kg. The scales are largely used in medicines and other related products. 

Dhananjay Mohan, chief conservator of forests said, "The poaching of pangolins indicates negligence on the part of forest staff. Anti-poaching section also lacks resources to stop such practices. However, we need to rehabilitate Kanjars as a long-term solution so they stop poaching penguins." 

According to Bivash Pandav, senior scientist with Wildlife Institute of India, there is a lack of exact date on the number of pangolins in the state. Due to lack of figures these lesser known nocturnal animal species which live mostly in dry ridges of some pockets of RNP have been heavily poached. 

The forest department is ill-equipped to deal with poaching activities with no presence of anti-poaching cell in the entire state. There is only one officer to supervise anti-poaching activities with complete absence of any support staff. 

Former head of anti-poaching section, AK Dutt too complained of anti-poaching section being left toothless without any staff and facilities. He had accused the present principal chief conservator of forests, SS Sharma, for rendering this section powerless. When TOI contacted Sharma, he did not respond to the call. However chief wildlife warden, DVS Khati said, he would make efforts in strengthening this section at initial stage. 



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