April 27, 2020 | Investopaper
Scores of trees are being illegally felled daily in the Sagarnath forest area in the Sarlahi district since the beginning of the lockdown. The Sagarnath Forest Development Project is without its chief after then project chief Devesh Mani Tripathi left the project following his promotion.
Timber smugglers have become active seizing on the lockdown and the project not having its chief. It is said even some staffers at the project are colluding with the timber smugglers in the illegal felling taking place in the national forest area.
An employee at the Project on condition of anonymity said that 100 thousand cubic feet timber kept at the project’s godown has been stolen and not to mention about rampant chopping down fresh trees in the national forest.
Chief District Officer Mohan Bahadur GC said timber smugglers have become active taking the opportunity offered them by the lockdown at a time the district administration has given its full attention to containment of COVID-19, acknowledging that he was aware of the illegal felling of trees and timber smuggling. He said security personnel would be mobilised for controlling these illegal activities and to protect the forest.
It is said the timber smugglers coming from even the neighbouring district Sindhuli have been supplying timber to the sawmills at various places in the Sarlahi district and across the border in India by using clandestine routes through Lalbandi, Hariwan, Bagmati and Phuljor.
Meanwhile, poaching activities have increased in the forest areas alongside the East-West Highway in the neighbouring district Mahottari, taking advantage of the lockdown.
The forest protection patrol team of the Division Forest Office Mahottari has rescued five wild animals in injured condition since April 13. Division chief Hemanta Prasad Saha said they rescued an injured deer near Laxminiya Chowk on Sunday.
According to him, they rescued three blue bulls and one spotted deer in injured state and released them in the forest after their treatment before this. A blue bull was found dead near the Ramnagar Plot at Sagarnath Forest Development Project during this period.
Wildlife poaching has increased of late in the Sagarnath forest project area of late. It is found that especially wild boars are killed by the poachers.
The wild boars and blue bulls have started entering the human settlements after being pursued by poachers. These animals are spotted in the border area, some 40 kilometres in the south of the district, these days, deputy mayor of Manara Sisawa municipality, Ramila Pradhan, said. She added that the animals entering the settlements have started damaging the crops in the field and sometimes even attacking people.