Sangareddy: The Forest Department officials on Tuesday confirmed that the five persons who were caught on Monday at Karmungi village in Nagulgidda mandal of Sangareddy district killed the endangered Black Buck, a deer protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act that attracts stringent punishment for the offenders.
Previously it was suspected that the deer that were killed were Chital but Sangareddy DFO K Venkateswarulu on Tuesday confirmed that the animals killed were Black Buck. “After we presented the evidence – the carcasses, the gun and the accused in the court, we prepared samples of the meat to be sent to CCMB for DNA typing to confirm the animals killed were Black Buck,” he said.
While no skins of the three Black Bucks killed were found when the five persons — Md Shakir, Md Niyaz, Md Nazar (residents of Kalburgi in Karnataka), Md Mukram and Md Muneer (residents of Toli Chowki in Hyderabad) — were arrested along with the carcasses and legs of the animals, the colour of the meat of the skinned animals – dark brown – was a giveaway to the identity of the animals that were allegedly shot by the group.
The police also recovered 12 spent casings of the bullets and 13 rounds of live ammunition for the 30-06 sporting rifle in the Scorpio vehicle that the group was travelling in. Sub-Inspector of Police Nagulgidda E Shekhar told Telangana Today that the gun was concealed under the rear seat of the Scorpio vehicle the group was travelling in.
On Tuesday, the arrested persons claimed innocence and said they were victims of a conspiracy and that the police planted the carcasses in their vehicle during a inspection stop. It was also learnt that a large group of people from Karnataka descended on the Forest Department office late on Monday night to pressurize the officials to release the arrested persons. There were also some phone calls that sought an easy going approach on the accused, it was learnt.
Killing of an animal listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act attracts punishment with “imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but may extend to six years and also with fine which shall not be less than Rs 5,000.”
Meanwhile, officials were worried that with the group claiming innocence, the handling of the weapon allegedly used in the killing of the Black Buck by some police officials initially and later by Forest Department officials, had left much to be desired. It is now believed that fingerprints of multiple people are on the weapon and on the empty shell cases and live bullets which could pose technical challenges as the case progresses.
However, Forest Department officials told Telangana Today that henceforth, they would include in all their training modules lessons on careful handling of evidence or objects collected during a seizure or investigations so that such mistakes are not repeated.