Wildlife & Biodiversity

Bihar policeman arrested for allegedly poaching blackbuck, chopping off horns

Blackbucks are found in abundance in Bihar’s Rohtas, Buxar, Kaimur and Bhojpur districts

 
By C K Manoj
Published: Friday 01 May 2020
The black buck's horns were chopped off with a sharp weapon Photo: C K Manoj
The black buck's horns were chopped off with a sharp weapon Photo: C K Manoj The black buck's horns were chopped off with a sharp weapon Photo: C K Manoj

A policeman in Bihar’s Rohtas district was arrested on April 30, 2020 for allegedly poaching an endangered blackbuck.

The blackbuck — or Indian antelope — is listed as an endangered species under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and its hunting invites punishment of up to seven years in jail.

Villagers on April 29 said the blackbuck was wandering in a field when a group of policemen posted at the Baghaila police station reached the spot on a jeep and shot the animal at close range.

The policemen then allegedly chopped off the antelope’s horns with a sharp weapon. The locals made a video of the incident and then proceeded to confront the cops. They also handed over the video to police as evidence.

One of the policemen was caught by the villagers, who said they had rushed to the spot after reportedly hearing gunshots. The arrested policeman was being interrogated for information on the others involved in the killing, said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Pradyuman Gaurav.

“We have been informed of the involvement of two more cops in the killing,” he said. The doctor who conducted an autopsy of the blackbuck, said it was killed after being attacked by a “sharp object”, according to Gaurav, who added that he had not received the post-mortem report yet.

There was also an attempt at recreating the crime scene as the information provided by the arrested policeman was not reliable, he said.

Blackbucks are found in abundance in Bihar’s Rohtas, Buxar, Kaimur and Bhojpur districts. They can be found roaming around freely in agricultural fields and are known to usually take shelter near heavy plantations by the forest department along river sides.

Local villagers do not kill the blackbucks, as they do not damage their crops.

“It is due to the locals that we came to know about the incident and were able to nab one of the accused,” Gaurav said. More than 1,000 blackbucks live in the above-mentioned districts in Bihar, according to Gaurav.

There have been stray incidents in the past of poachers killing the antelopes for their body parts that are considered to be valuable in illegal wildlife markets. The DFO said people kill blackbucks primarily for two things: Using their characteristic twisted horns as trophies and their meat. “In this case, too, its horns have been chopped off,” he said.

As many as 139 blackbucks were killed by poachers in the past decade since 2008 in India, with the maximum killings reported from Madhya Pradesh (31), according to data shared by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau in July 2019.

The data gathered from the bureau — that comes under the Union ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change — through the Right to Information Act found that the protected animal is poached in 13 states across the country.

After Madhya Pradesh, there were 25 killings reported in Karnataka, with 24 in Uttar Pradesh, 21 in Maharashtra, 12 in Rajasthan, 10 in Andhra Pradesh, four each in Gujarat and Haryana, three in Odisha, two in Telangana and one each in Punjab and Tamil Nadu.

Incidents of poaching blackbucks and other deer have occurred in the past in Bihar as well.

One such incident of killing of blackbuck took place in Buxar district in 2014, while in West Champaran, local villagers were accused of killing a deer that strayed from the Valmiki Tiger Reserve and sharing its meat among them earlier in April this year.

Environmentalists say blackbucks — famous for their soft coats and characteristic twisted horns — are very nervous by nature and sometimes die of heart attacks after sensing danger.

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