Around 14 Cuddeback and Scoutguard cameras installed by the forest department officials at the vast Mugguru wildlife forest area off the Bengaluru-Kanakapura Road as part of tiger census project are being stolen since the last fortnight. The forest department officials have made seven beats in the Mugguru reserve forest and have assigned forest guards to patrol the area and to check for images that are captured in the cameras.
When the forest guards went to check the cameras to see if any images of tigers has been captured, they found the cameras to have been stolen. The cost of the stolen cameras is estimated around Rs 1.32 lakh. The forest department officials have also checked the vicinity hoping that the miscreants might have thrown them in the area. Unable to find the cameras, Assistant Range Forest Officer (ARFO) S Rajesh of the Mugguru forest sub-division has filed a police report. The complaint was filed on Saturday with the jurisdictional police.
“Of the 14 cameras, eight are Scoutguard cameras and 6 are Cuddeback cameras. Cost of each Scoutguard camera is Rs 9000 and one Cuddeback camera costs Rs 10,000. The cameras are stolen from Bevinakuntte buffer zone, Datakada buffer zone, Aladamaradamatta buffer zone, Bagehalla buffer zone, Kallupotaredoddi buffer zone, Sollebasappanathittu buffer zone and Bushbetta buffer zone of the Mugguru forest,”the ARFO in his police complaint has stated.
The theft is said to be a big blow to the forest department in its efforts to keep a track on the movement of tigers. The camera trapping method has been used for tiger estimation in the Mugguru forest area. Earlier, tiger census were being carried out using the pug mark
“Fearing of getting caught, the poachers are being suspected of having stolen the cameras. The cameras were also helping the forest officials to track the movement of poachers,” said an officer on part of investigations.
A case of theft under section 379 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against the unidentified accused. Further investigations are on.