BHUBANESWAR/BALASORE: Three days after a mob stormed into the core area of Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) threatening the field staff to go on a hunting spree, the park officials on Friday arrested as many as 35 poachers.
Fifteen guns and animal meat were also seized from their possession.
Sleuths from three divisions including Baripada, Karanjia and STR Deputy Director, raided Upper Barahkamda and Kaptipada ranges and nabbed the poachers, who had apparently sneaked into the forests and started hunting.
The flush-out drive was one of the biggest launched by the STR authorities after the Naxals attacked the park in 2009 which had left the field staff in a state of panic while conservation measures went into a limbo for a long time.
While the joint operation was led by Deputy Director of STR Bikash Ranjan Das, Baripada Divisional Forest Officer Bijay Kumar Panda and Karanjia DFO SMT Rehman, a 10-member team of ex-servicemen deployed inside the core area was also instrumental as they came handy in helping the forest personnel catch the poachers.
“Efforts are on to nab other poachers who are suspected to have sneaked deep inside the forest,” Regional Conservator of Forests of Baripada Circle and Field Director of STR Anup Nayak said. It was on Tuesday that a 1500-strong mob of hunters had barged into the core are of STR and confronted the field staff when the latter declined them permission. A volatile situation could be avoided by the forest staff who had managed to dissuade the mob.
However, some of them had managed to get inside the park and even resorted to hunting. The flush-out drive was launched on Thursday and Friday. Besides fire arms, poison-laced arrows and traditional weapons have also been seized from the possession of the poachers, the official sources said.