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Wildlife department to use camera traps to fight poaching

The Times of India
11 Nov 2017

MANALI: Officials of Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP), which is a world heritage site, plan to use camera traps to keep an eye on poachers, who often target rare species. Most of the cases of poaching come to the fore during winter months when higher regions experience snowfall and animals descend to lower areas.
The national park is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna and several rare species like snow leopard, Himalayan bear, Himalayan tahr, musk deer, blue sheep, monal and western tragopan are found here. The park is spread over a vast area in Kullu valley and majority of it experiences snowfall in winter months. The wildlife comes down to lower areas in search of food and water where poachers target them. The park authorities use camera traps to record the activities of both wildlife as well as the poachers. This time, the department has marked places to establish dozens of such cameras.
Park director RS Patyal said the cameras would be established before the snowfall. "We have noticed illegal activities inside the park. Cameras will not only take pictures of the poachers but also of animals, which will help us in study of the species. The hidden cameras would be brought back to collect data after the snow melts," he said.

Patyal added that the ground staff would increase patrolling in the park during winter months and the process was likely to take many days. "I went on patrolling from October 23 to 27. We started the trek from Ropa in Sainj valley to Sairopa in Tirthan valley. We noticed illegal extraction of medicinal herbs as well. Our patrolling will continue throughout the winter season," he said.
It becomes difficult for officials to track poachers and probe case in absence of evidences. The photos captured by the cameras would become evidence against those involved in the illegal activities. A few years ago the department had lodged a complaint against a poacher, who was captured on camera carrying a gun.
Many people kill monal, western tragopan, blue sheep and other wildlife for meat. Residents of Shakti and Maror, the villages inside the park, also used to kill animals but they had surrendered their arms to the authorities in January 2014 and had promised to protect wildlife.
Animals sometime enters villages in search of food when fail to find prey on high altitude during winter months. This also happens in Lahaul-Spiti district where snow leopards come in search of wild goats. To prevent the man-animal conflict, the wildlife department increases patrolling to keep an eye on the animals.