Kalahandi: A man was killed while another was injured after being electrocuted after coming in contact with high voltage wire laid by poachers as trap for wild animals at Thuamal Rampur block in Bhawanipatna.
The deceased has been identified as Kabi Nayak.
According to reports, both Kabi and his son had gone to nearby field and while returning both of them came in contact with the electric wire yesterday.
Following the incident, both Kabi and his son were immediately rushed to Thuamul Rampur hospital by local villagers. Later, Kabi died at the hospital while the condition of his son is still critical.
Large-scale hunting is leading to a decline in the diversity of waterbirds in the state, say researchers.
Spotting a bar-headed goose, a Eurasian spoonbill or a painted stork in the wetlands of Tamil Nadu is becoming increasingly difficult because of the rampant illegal hunting of waterbirds. The hunting, at scales not mapped before, is triggered by demand from the market for wild meat and not subsistence hunting by a few, a new study by researchers at the Nature Conservation Foundation in Mysuru has found.
The researchers studied 27 wetlands in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram district and interviewed 272 hunters over six months. Recording around 53 waterbird species across the wetlands during eight months of fieldwork in 2013 and 2014, they found that 47 species were being hunted, especially large and medium-sized birds. They also held that the hunting had contributed to a decline in the diversity of species found in the region, especially medium-sized insectivorous birds.
The study, based on a survey of hunters, concluded that the illegal hunting of waterbirds was market-driven and had grown in scale in the last 10 years. This contradicts previous findings by researchers that hunting is usually taken up by certain communities on a small scale purely for subsistence. Around 73.5% of the respondents reported monetary gain as the primary motive for hunting, sport and subsistence being the other reasons.
“The conclusions were in contrast to what we expected,” said Ramesh Ramachandran, an MSc student in wildlife biology and conservation at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bengaluru, who undertook this study as part of his dissertation. “We thought this was a traditional practice that had been there for hundreds of years. But it is a total commercialised mafia.”
The hunting of wild animals driven by a demand for wild meat, which is seen as exotic by some in the richer strata of society, is documented in some other parts of the country, particularly the tribal belts of Central India and the North East, but this research shows the same trend prevailing in Tamil Nadu as well.
Policeman to conservationist
Before taking up wildlife conservation studies, Ramachandran was a policeman in Karnataka and a member of a special cell tracking wildlife crime. “Because of his background, he brings an interesting viewpoint to conservation,” said KS Gopi Sundar, his mentor and scientist at the Cranes and Wetlands Programme of the Nature Conservation Foundation.
Ramachandran narrowed down his area of study to Kancheepuram, which has a large number of lakes and waterbodies, including two protected bird sanctuaries – Vedanthangal and Karikili.
His police training helped him track down communities that hunted wild birds and traded in their meat. He said he worked at winning their trust before presenting them with the questionnaire for the study. With a team of wildlife enthusiasts and informants, he visited them several times to get them to participate in the study.
At the end of their research, the team found that 92% of the hunting was done using locally crafted single-barrel muzzle-loading guns. A hunter on average went out four or five times a month and each trip yielded around 21 birds, which earned him an average monthly income of around Rs 13,000. The most commonly traded meat was that of the pond heron.
Around 71% of the respondents reported an increase in the demand for waterbird meat for consumption over the past decade. And the study found two distinct markets existing for the wild meat. It was sold at a fixed time slot, between 6 pm and 8 pm, to buyers who specifically sought it out. The remaining meat then made its way to restaurants and roadside food stalls near liquor shops where it was sold at much lower rates.
Around 75% of the hunters interviewed reported that they supplied birds to 426 eateries in the area. However, out of the 681 eateries surveyed, only eight acknowledged serving wild waterbird meat.
“It is significant that there is a market at work which sustains this trade and it stays under the radar,” said Ravinder Singh Bhalla of the Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and Learning in Tamil Nadu. He added that hunting as a paid hobby was more prevalent than documentation suggested, since it was usually kept under wraps.
“What is remarkable is how this practice has stayed undocumented for what appears to be decades,” said Bhalla. “It would be too simplistic to attribute this to collusion by authorities alone. Social exclusion and lack of economic opportunities combined with cultural practices clearly have a role to play in this choice of livelihood by the hunters.”
Among the waterbirds that are being hunted are many migratory species, which India is bound to protect under the international Convention on Migratory Species. “Yet these are being sold on national highways,” said Ajith Kumar of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “A suitable method should be devised for controlling this, not just by forest officials harassing these communities and putting a few of them behind bars.”
Neglected field of study
The study has also brought to light the lack of research on wetland ecology, which Gopi Sundar claims is an extremely nascent science.
“Serious work that asks important questions has been largely missing,” the Nature Conservation Foundation scientist said. He pointed out that the majority of large waterbirds are found outside protected areas whereas much of ecological research is focused on protected forest areas.
So far, studies in the area of wetland ecology have dealt with ecological parameters such as the size of water bodies and vegetation, and their relationship with the populations and diversity of birds. This study is the first to have gathered information on hunting practices and factored these into trends of community structures and counts of bird species in each wetland, the researchers said. “This kind of analysis has never been done anywhere in the world,” said Gopi Sundar.
South African authorities long had eyes on Rogers Mukwena. They knew the former schoolteacher was wanted in Zimbabwe for poaching rhinoceroses and selling their horns, which can command hundreds of thousands of dollars.
He’d jumped bail and fled to northern Pretoria, but it was vexingly difficult to catch and prosecute him — until a scientist helped make the case against him with rhino DNA.
His subsequent conviction resulted from a new tactic in wildlife preservation: The genetic fingerprinting methods that have been so successful in the criminal justice system are now being used to solve poaching crimes.
First, researchers in South Africa had to build a large database of genetic samples drawn from African rhinoceroses. The DNA would be used to match a carcass to a particular horn discovered on a suspected poacher or trafficker, or to rhinoceros blood on his clothes, knives or axes.
To make that possible, Dr. Cindy Harper, a veterinarian at the University of Pretoria, and her colleagues collected DNA from every rhinoceros they could find — more than 20,000 so far. They have taught park rangers how to retrieve blood, tissue or hair samples from every rhinoceros that is killed, dehorned or moved.
The rangers have learned forensic crime-scene principles and the importance of the so-called chain of custody to ensure that the samples are not corrupted. Dr. Harper’s lab performs the analysis and stores DNA fingerprints.
The scientists’ database, which they call Rhodis, is modeled after Codis, the F.B.I. system used to link the DNA of suspects to evidence at a crime scene.
The approach is promising, said Crawford Allan, senior director of Traffic, which monitors illegal wildlife trade at the World Wildlife Fund.
A poaching scene is a crime scene, he said: “If you want to get through detection and investigation and prosecution, treat it as a crime scene and use forensics.”
Poaching has escalated exponentially in the past decade, he noted. More than 7,000 rhinos have been killed in the past ten years. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that 20,00 to 30,000 African elephants are killed each year for their tusks.
Their tusks and horns are trafficked through experienced criminal networks. “You really need sophisticated tools to help solve these crimes,” Mr. Allan said.
The rhino project provides “a ‘cold hit’ database,” said Stephen J. O’Brien, referring to the identification of a perpetrator by DNA when there are no other apparent clues.
Dr. O’Brien, an expert on DNA fingerprinting and chief scientific officer of the Theodosius Dobzhansky Center for Genome Bioinformatics at St. Petersburg State University in Russia, is co-author of a new paper, published on Monday in Current Biology, describing the anti-poaching effort.
A similar attempt to use DNA to convict poachers is led by Sam Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington. His group’s focus is African elephants.
Over a period of 15 years, he and his colleagues have collected and analyzed DNA from dung to create a map of the ranges of various elephant groups based on their genetic differences. It helps show where ivory seized from poachers originated.
The project has not linked specific carcasses to specific tusks recovered from traffickers. But the analysis has provided valuable clues about the regions in which poachers are operating.
“To our surprise, the ivory was consistently coming from two areas,” Dr. Wasser said. Tusks from savanna elephants were initially coming from southeastern Tanzania and northern Mozambique, the data showed, but the illegal trade then shifted northward to southern Kenya.
Tusks from forest elephants originated in a small triangular area in northeast Gabon, northwest Republic of the Congo, and southeastern Cameroon.
“Instead of focusing everywhere, if we really want the big criminals we should focus on those two spots,” Dr. Wasser said.
The sale of ivory and rhino horns is hugely lucrative. Rhino horns may bring $60,000 or more per kilogram. A horn generally weighs a few kilograms, but a few have been as heavy as 10 kilograms, or about 22 pounds.
“Pound for pound, a rhino horn is worth more than heroin or gold or platinum,” Mr. Allan said. And prosecutions are so rare that the risks for the traffickers are “very low.”
The poacher sells horns to a trafficker, who disguises them and ships them to destination countries, mainly Vietnam and China. Some horns are carved into jewelry while still in South Africa, which can make it extremely difficult to trace them.
Most horns are ground and used as medicine in Asia, believed to cure cancer, impotence — or, Mr. Allan said, “you name it.” More recently, people in Asia have begun wearing beads or bangles made from rhino horns thought to have curative powers and to be status symbols. Some horns are made into ceremonial cups.
Elephant tusks currently sell for $1,000 a kilogram, Dr. Wasser said. Unlike rhino horns, which are shipped in relatively small volumes, traffickers typically collect and ship at least half a ton of ivory, or 500 kilograms, in a container.
Some seizures have uncovered as much as seven tons of ivory in a single shipment, Dr. Wasser said. Ivory is primarily bought by collectors or as an investment.
Dr. Wasser’s primary target is traffickers, not poachers. Even when poachers are caught and convicted, he said, “there are 10 more waiting in line to replace them.”
But traffickers form the basis of the business that makes poaching profitable. “The analogy is, are you after a serial killer or a one-time murderer?” he asked.
To catch a serial killer, Dr. Wasser added, authorities require “intelligence-based forensics to prevent future crimes.”
Dr. Harper also hopes to disrupt the criminal networks shipping contraband — in this case, rhino horns — to destination countries. So far, the rhino database has been used to convict hunters and traffickers in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and Swaziland.
But the group has not disrupted the criminal conglomerates at the top of the chain, she said.
The rhinoceros project began in 2010, when poaching was skyrocketing. Thirteen were poached in South Africa in 2007; more than 1,000 are now killed each year.
In 120 criminal cases completed or still pending, Rhodis has linked DNA on horns, equipment or clothing to particular carcasses, Dr. Harper said. But it can take years for a case to move through the courts and end in a conviction.
The first successful such conviction involved a Vietnamese smuggler who was caught with seven horns at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg in 2010. Two were matched to carcasses, and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
But the case involving Mr. Mukwena was one of the first to involve a well-known smuggler. He was arrested on Jan. 16, 2012, after a police officer spotted him walking across a field carrying a black bag.
When the officer confronted him, Mr. Mukwena dropped the bag and ran. It contained three rhinoceros horns, two from a cow and one from her calf.
Apprehended, Mr. Mukwena admitted to killing the cow but said an accomplice had killed the calf because it was bothering him.
Correction: January 8, 2018
An earlier version of this article misidentified the organization that hosts Traffic, the group monitoring illegal wildlife trade. It is the World Wildlife Fund, not the World Wildlife Federation.
State Department of Fish and Wildlife police are asking for the public’s help after officers found more than two dozen dead ducks dumped along a roadside in Grays Harbor County on Dec. 26, 2017. (Photo: Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Police)
GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY, Wash. – State Department of Fish and Wildlife Police are asking for the public’s help to find whomever dumped more than two dozen dead ducks along a roadside in Grays Harbor County last week.
Officers said three white garbage bags containing 28 ducks that had been shot were discovered on December 26 at the Devonshire Road turnout on State Route 12, about nine miles east of Aberdeen.
The dead ducks included 8 hen Mallards, 18 Drake Mallards and two smaller birds.
A Sacramento County man entered a no contest plea Tuesday to charges of poaching a huge blacktail deer in Sacramento County. John Frederick Kautz, 51, of Lodi, was charged with possession of an illegally poached deer and falsification of deer tag reporting information, both misdemeanors, following a three-month investigation.
Kautz illegally killed the trophy-sized buck on private property in Wilton in December 2016, two months after the deer season closed in the area. The deer had an antler spread of 31 inches with four antler points on one side and five on the other, which is an unusually large size for this part of California.
Kautz transported the illegally killed deer across state lines to Nevada to have the deer head mounted by a taxidermist. Kautz was also working through the process of scoring the trophy class buck to have it entered into the Safari Club International hunting record book. The deer’s trophy-sized antlers would have been surely accepted if the animal had been legally taken. However, the poaching conviction for the buck makes it ineligible for that recognition.
Working on a tip provided in September 2017, Wildlife Officers Sean Pirtle and Anthony Marrone spent an exhaustive three months on the investigation, collecting evidence that would prove the year-old incident was an act of poaching. Through extensive interviews, multiple search warrants and forensic analysis of computer records, and with the help of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Computer Crimes Unit, they slowly pieced together the puzzle. Then, collaborating with Nevada game wardens who conducted multiple follow-up interviews outside of California, they worked together in an attempt to track down the actual deer that had been mounted by the Nevada taxidermist.
All California wildlife officers are federally deputized to investigate fish and wildlife crimes anywhere in the United States. The wildlife officers submitted the case to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office for prosecution.
On Dec. 19, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney David Brown announced a plea bargain resulting in a conviction of two poaching related misdemeanors. Kautz was sentenced to two days in county jail, placed on three years probation with a search and seizure clause, ordered to surrender the mounted deer head and was prohibited by the court from hunting or accompanying anyone else who is hunting during his probation. The fine was set at $5,000 pursuant to a new legislation and regulation package which took effect on July 1, 2017, increasing penalties associated with poaching “trophy class” or very large wild game animals.
The vast majority of hunters are ethical and abide by hunting laws and regulations, including the individual who provided this tip that helped lead to Kautz’s conviction.
“We would like to thank our wildlife law enforcement partners in Nevada and the CHP, and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office for their assistance in this investigation and the subsequent prosecution, and the hunter who gave us the original tip,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Law Enforcement Division Chief.
“We are also pleased how the newly effective legislation and regulations package helped increase the penalties in this case to hopefully deter others from the same poaching behavior. A case like this is exactly why this package was enacted.”
OAKLAND — Maryland Natural Resources Police recently arrested five Garrett County residents on charges related to a string of illegal hunting incidents that reportedly began in 2016 and continued into this year. NRP officers executed search and seizure warrants at several homes last month following tips from social media and the public.
Tyler Michael DeWitt, 21, Swanton, was charged with hunting during a closed season, possessing of deer in a closed season, hunting deer at night, hunting deer with a spotlight, shooting from a vehicle, hunting without written permission, removing the head or hide of a deer before check-in, failing to report a turkey kill and obstructing or hindering a police investigation. He was cited for 30 violations that could lead to a total maximum fine of $45,500 and revocation of his hunting privileges for up to five years.
Dakota Lee Hinebaugh, 29, Oakland, was cited for 24 violations that could lead to fines totaling $39,500 and revocation of his hunting privileges for up to five years. He is accused of hunting without a license, hunting during a closed season, possessing of deer in a closed season, hunting deer at night, hunting deer with a spotlight, hunting without written permission and removing the head or hide of a deer before check-in.
The investigation revealed that Tyler DeWitt and Dakota Hinebaugh engaged in night hunting on several occasions from roads in southern Garrett County. The following men were reportedly implicated in the activities.
Michael Allen DeWitt, 42, Oakland, was charged with obstructing and hindering a police investigation, as well as littering, after his son Tyler (mentioned above) warned him in April to throw away packages of deer meat and antlers kept at the senior DeWitt’s home. He faces a potential fine of $1,500 and up to 30 days in jail.
Donald Lee Hinebaugh Jr., 41, Oakland, received citations for failing to report two deer kills and aiding and abetting hunting without a license. He faces a potential fine of up to $1,500.
Phillip Lyle DeWitt, 58, Mtn. Lake Park, was cited for failing to report a kill and failing to record the kill on his Big Game Harvest Record. He could be fined a maximum of $3,000.
In connection with the investigation, Maryland State Police charged Lukas Isaac Holler, 18, Oakland, and James Wesley Lewis, 19, Accident, each with possession of a rifle or shotgun after conviction of a disqualifying crime and illegal possession of ammunition. The weapons charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000 fine, and the ammunition charge carries a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to $1,000.
Officers reportedly searched an area near Graham Road and found approximately a dozen deer carcasses dumped over the embankment. Some of the heads of the carcasses had the skull plate/antlers removed while antlered deer with small racks were intact.
Trial dates in Garrett County District Court are pending.
CENTRALIA, Wash. (AP) – Two of the three newest suspects in a massive poaching investigation out of southwest Washington have pleaded not guilty.
The Chronicle reports Aaron Hendricks, his father-in-law David McLeskey of Woodland and Aaron Hanson are facing charges of first-degree animal cruelty, unlawful hunting of black bear, cougar, bobcat or lynx with dogs and second-degree unlawful hunting of animals.
Hendricks and McLeskey have pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.
Hanson is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
According to court documents, officials uncovered a network of poachers after investigating William Haynes and Erik Martin who are suspected of engaging in illegal hunting activities.
Law enforcement identified Hanson, Hendricks and McLeskey as suspects and co-conspirators in the illegal activities from cellphone evidence.
A Saskatchewan man has been handed a lifetime hunting ban after pleading guilty to running an illegal outfitting operation.
Ministry of Environment conservation officers started an investigation into Steven Bullock, 36, in March 2016 after becoming aware of a possible illegal outfitting company called In The Stix Bear Camp.
Officers said he had been advertising bear hunts on social media since 2015 and an inactive camp in northern Saskatchewan was being used as a front for the operation.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources became involved in the investigation in the fall of 2016 after an American client was provided outfitting services to hunt black bears along the North Saskatchewan River near Langham and fish at Blackstrap Lake.
Bullock, who is from Langham, was charged with outfitting and advertising without a licence, exceeding fish possession limits, breaching a 10 year firearms prohibition order, possession of a firearm without a possession acquisition licence and falsifying hunting/outfitting licenses.
He pleaded guilty in Saskatoon provincial court to seven charges and was fined $16,080.
Bullock was also handed a lifetime ban from applying or obtaining a big game licence, game bird licence or fur licence.
He is also banned from owning or possessing a firearm or ammunition for three years, must contact a conservation officer prior to accompanying anyone on a hunt and abide by the conditions of his probation and conditional sentence orders.
Environment Ministry officials said anyone charged and convicted of a suspendable wildlife infraction on three separate occasions automatically receives a lifetime hunting suspension.
Bullock pleaded guilty in October 2016 to illegally hunting moose in the Langham area in November 2014.
Along with receiving a fine of $5,600, he was given a four-year hunting suspension.
There is no information available on his third offence.
Wildlife advocates want Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to reopen an investigation into an elk hunter’s shooting of a wolf in Eastern Oregon, which was initially ruled self-defense.
In the weeks since, potential discrepancies in the evidence and the account from Oregon State Police have been raised by wolf advocates, a prominent wolf biologist and former Fish and Wildlife Service trapper, as well as a former district attorney in Oregon.
On Oct. 27, a man from Clackamas hunting near La Grande called police to report he’d shot a wolf. He said he encountered three wolves. One charged at him. He told police he feared for his life.
He fired one shot and killed it. The rest scattered.
Police ruled it self defense. It is illegal to shoot a wolf in Oregon, unless it is in self-defense or the wolf is caught in the act of attacking livestock.
The hunter, Brian Scott, could not be reached for comment. On Saturday, he told The Oregonian/Oregonlive he was terrified as he raised his rifle, saw nothing but hair in the scope, and shot.
“People envision this jerk hunter out to kill anything, but that’s not me. It frustrates me they don’t understand,” Scott told The Oregonian/Oregonlive. “I’m a meat hunter. I was looking for a spike elk. This wasn’t exciting. It ruined my hunt.”
Eighteen environmental groups have now petitioned the governor’s office to order a new look at the Oregon State Police investigation, this time with independent oversight from the state attorney general’s office, with cooperation from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“The hunter may have been afraid. We aren’t questioning that. We are, however, questioning why OSP’s report does not give a complete or accurate account of the evidence,” said Quinn Read, with Defenders of Wildlife.
“It’s not about discrepancies in the hunter’s story. To me, the problem is the agency charged with enforcing our state’s wildlife laws either overlooked some evidence, they either misinterpreted it or perhaps misrepresented it,” Read said.
Photographs show the gunshot wound is on the side of the wolf. That’s an unlikely location for a charging animal, said Scott Heiser, a former Benton County district attorney who worked for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Heiser reviewed available evidence at the request of Oregon Wild.
“The photographs publicly available suggest that this wolf was shot in the middle of the right side of her body with an exit wound at the left front shoulder,” Heiser said. “If this is accurate, then that would profoundly contradict a self-defense claim as the presumptive angle of the bullet would suggest the wolf was not charging the shooter at the time he fired the shot.”
Heiser said Oregon State Police should have called for a necropsy of the animal. He said that could have helped determined whether the animal charged but turned at the last second, or some other explanation for the wound location.
Wolf biologist Carter Niemeyer, who spent many years as a wolf tracker for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also said the photographs of the wound appear more consistent with an animal shot from the side, while stationary.
“That’s a pretty well-placed bullet for a snapshot,” said Niemeyer. “Shooting predators, that’s where that scope, crosshairs is usually put. Right on the chest area.”
Niemeyer said because the wolf was a small female — 83 pounds — he would expect it to flee human contact. He said he isn’t judging Scott, the hunter, or questioning whether he was fearful, as he said he was. He thinks a more thorough investigation would have prevented much of the speculation.
The governor’s office and Oregon police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the letter, wolf advocates said self-defense can be an “easy out” for those who kill wolves illegally. Two other wolves in Oregon have been illegally killed since last October. As Oregon’s wolf population has expanded to the point that the state can consider future wolf hunting, those groups fear what will happen without close scrutiny of self-defense claims.
Dominic Aiello, a hunting advocate and president of the Oregon Outdoor Council, said environmental groups are blowing this wolf’s death out of proportion, which will exacerbate the controversial issue of wolf recovery.
He said he doubts Oregon will come to see overwhelming use of the self-defense claim.
“I think if you’re intent on killing a wolf illegally, you’re not going to call OSP to say you’ve actually shot a wolf,” Aiello said. “ Someone’s not going to call the police on themselves after killing a wolf that they didn’t need to kill. It doesn’t make sense.”
BUENA VISTA, Colo. — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking the public for information about two bull elk that were found shot dead near Cottonwood Pass on Sunday.
Wildlife officials said a hunter found the abandoned carcasses off County Road 306 about a half mile from the summit of Cottonwood Pass, which is west of Buena Vista. They estimate both elk were shot dead early Sunday morning. The carcasses, which were abandoned about 50 yards from the road, were fully intact.
Anyone with information about the deaths is asked to call Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 719-539-8413 or 719-530-5520.
Wildlife officials said they recognize accidents can happen while hunting, and they urge the responsible person to step forward.
“Prompt self-reporting will be taken into account when charges are being considered,” they said in a statement.
According to CPW, willfully destroying and abandoning big game can lead to felony charges. If convicted, violators can be fined more than $10,000 and face up to a year in jail, along with a lifetime suspension of hunting and fishing privileges in 44 states, including Colorado.