Nagpur: Acting on a tip-off provided by activists, the Forest Department officials on Sunday raided Motibagh slums and rescued 60 birds including 22 rose-ringed parakeets, 30 love birds, and eight pigeons trapped for clandestine trade. The raid was conducted by Kalmeshwar and Seminary Hills Range Forest officials under the supervision of Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) PD Palwe after information from People for Animals (PFA) activists Swapnil Bodhane and Ashish Korde from Nagpur and Wardha.
The main accused Sheikh Abid Nasir Khan (26), a resident of Ansar Nagar slums, has been arrested. However, two other accused managed to escape. The rescued birds have been sheltered at Transit Treatment Centre (TTC) in Seminary Hills and will be released after court order. Rose-ringed parakeets are protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972, and trading them or keeping them as pets is a crime.
According to PFA’s rescue in-charge Kaustubh Gawande, “The action is just a tip of the iceberg. A big racket capturing parakeets and selling them to a particular section of the society is active in the city. The birds and their chicks are captured from forest areas near the city and sold to this section. The birds seized from the accused on Sunday were captured from Dhapewada in Kalmeshwar range.”
According to reports, the key accused Shaikh is a habitual offender and was caught in 2017 and 2018 also. He was also convicted for a similar offence. Shaikh was nabbed from Lakadganj area by one team and another team of forest staff raided three houses in Motibagh slums near the railway line. Shaikh was linked to Motibagh from where 60 birds and over 40 empty cages were seized, said ACF Palwe.
Reports further said that Nagpur is a booming market for birds and these species are clandestinely sold in weekly bazaars in Lakadganj, Mangalwari, and Cotton Market areas. A few years ago, frequent raids by the Forest Department had curbed the trade but as the anti-poaching squad with the Nagpur Circle has become defunct, there is a spurt in wildlife crime in the region.