SARLAHI: Timber smugglers and poachers are spreading their tentacles in Sarlahi, taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic prohibition order.
People who live near forest areas in Lalbandi, Ishwarpur, Haripurwa, and Barthawa say they have noticed an increase in the number of people moving through the forest for smuggling and poaching.
The prohibitory order was issued by the district on May 8 and has been extended until today.
According to locals, poaching of these animals and birds has recently increased. On the evening of May 13, police apprehended a person who was skinning a blue bull after it had been killed.
Police also seized a motorcycle with the registration number Province 2 02032 Pa 2522 and another motorcycle with an Indian number plate, as well as three loaded guns and gun powder, allegedly belonging to poachers from the Sagarnath Forest area in Ishwarpur municipality-4.
Poachers fired three rounds into the air during the confiscation process, prompting police to respond with two rounds of blank fire, according to Area Police Office, Keshargunj, Bayalbas police chief Janak Raj Dhungana.
However, the security team was successful in apprehending one Rana Bahadur Gole of Ishwarpur municipality-4, and he is being investigated, according to Superintendent of Police Santosh Singh Rathaur. Three other members of his gang have escaped, and police are looking for them.
Locals are fearful as alleged poachers and timber smugglers have increased their movements. They have been warned that they will be physically assaulted if they report anything about them to the police and cooperate with them.
Madhav Prasad Dev of the Division Forest Office admitted that with the implementation of the prohibitory order, poaching and wood smuggling activities had increased, and forest security patrolling had been beefed up to crack down on forest-based illegal activities.