POACHERs are motivated purely by commercial gain. But the tribals of Simlipal
in Orissa are prompted by almost sacrosanct tradition - an annual hunting
ceremony known as akhand shikar or
.mass hunting excursion", which turns
them into ferocious killers of even protected animals.
The ritual normally begins in mid-April on Chaitra Sankranti. This year, Orissa forest authorities sealed off the Simlipal National Park, home to many protected species. This prevented the en masse infiltration of tribals armed with bows and arrows. The park will remain sealed till May 31.
, During the ritual, the tribals set up shikar camps and hunt down animals mercilessly. The Simlipal Forest Reserve authorities, along with a local tribal organisation called the Society for Research and Development of Tribs Culture, have distributed leaflets prined in Oriya and Santhali languages to hammer home the message of wildlife conservation.
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