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The Tamil Nadu Forest Department, in an intensified drive to protect wild animals, has strengthened its network of anti-poaching watchers and guards. Though their efforts to stop poaching of wild animals have started paying off, as evidenced by the recent fall in poaching incidents of animals such as deer, awareness among the people, particularly among villagers near forests, is still not up to the mark.

Though the Tamil Nadu laws on prevention of poaching and protection of the wildlife are stringent, violations continue clandestinely. The Forest Department has recently detected poaching of deer and arrested several persons while many poachers are at large in Dharmapuri, Singarathoppu near Vellore, Dindigul and Kanyakumari districts.

In a specific incident, on a tip-off that two deer were poached in the Marundhuvazhmalai forest under Poodhapandi forest division near Kanyakumari, forest officials rushed to Perumalpuram village where they had heard the deer’s meat was sold door to door. They seized deer meat, cooked and uncooked, at several residences in the village and arrested a few poachers.  Penalties of about Rs 30 lakh were collected from the poachers as well as the buyers of meat. A few more culprits are yet to be arrested as they had somehow escaped the police net.

Forest officials rushed to Perumalpuram village where deer meat was sold door to door. Penalties of about Rs.30 lakh were collected from the poachers as well as the buyers of meat

A few years ago, popular actor Salman Khan was in the news for his poaching of deer in Rajasthan. Contrary to the expectation that imprisonment would bring about reformation, his arrest and jail term had not helped reverse the trend of poaching of wild animals generally done for commercial ends.

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Perumalpuram, which was tense following the poaching case, throws up several questions. The forest officials who cracked down on the village and took action had done their job correctly. Ironically the village is not notorious for poverty as one might think, considering the poaching case. Most of the villagers are educated and financially strong enough to own cars.

But their prosperity and education had not instilled in them the values of mercy and concern for wildlife. It is said that this is the first case of poaching of deer for meat in the village. But the way the people shared the meat among themselves has raised doubts. Hence, forest department should make further inquiries to find out the truth.

 A few years ago, popular actor Salman Khan was in the news for his poaching of deer in Rajasthan. Contrary to the expectation that imprisonment would bring about reformation, his arrest and jail term had not helped reverse the trend of poaching of wild animals generally done for commercial ends

The adjoining Marundhuvazhmalai forest is not a big one. Wild animals straying among the farming fields bordering the village are common. People catch the animals but don’t find their action ethically wrong though illegal.

Against this background, it is a moot point if the forest department’s campaign against poaching will pay off completely.  Rather than a legal education that explains why poaching is a crime, it is an ethical education creating among the villagers an awareness of the evil effects of poaching, which will make the anti-poaching campaign stronger and more productive.

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How the co-existence of wildlife will be more beneficial to the environment and ultimately to the life of people should be propagated among the villagers, even from the school level. Real environmental education in schools will shape children’s outlook and instill in them kindness towards wildlife.

That will go a long way in preventing poaching more effectively than the official war does.


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