Pune: After Death of Indian Gaur, Forest Department Issues SOP For Rescue Operation

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Mehab Qureshi

Pune, December 14, 2020: Pune city was in news last week for all wrong reasons. After the Indian Gaur strayed into a housing society in Kothrud area, frenzy among the residents and the death of the animal. The entire episode took place for five hours, but it posed a few pertinent questions over Human animal conflict.


Nevertheless, in recent past leopards straying into human habitants had been on a steady rise especially in the Western Ghat regions. The conflict is becoming fierce day by day, as deforestation, humans encroaching upon the forest land increased.

What had happened in Kothrud, Pune?

On December 9, Indian Gaur was seen into a housing society in densely populated Kothrud area of Pune city. After that the society residents called out for police and also informed the Forest Department. By the time the rescue operations were on, the news spread like a wildfire and people started pouring in to see the animal. Already, frightened the animal started running and went through the busy street. He was chased by people, officials of Forest Department, police and media.

After nearly five hours, the animal was tamed, but by that time the animal had given up.

Forest Department issues SOP?

Leopards have been a frequent occurrence in Mumbai for the last two decades. In this context, Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali has set up separate units to maintain coordination between the forest department and the police. Rescue operations, training and workshops are conducted for the police at regular intervals. It also rules on how to handle crowd. This has made it possible to avoid damage in many cases.


Similarly, the forest department is also planning to set up an independent system for handling human-wildlife conflict in other cities in the state.


Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Sunil Limaye said, “We are in dialogue with all the senior police officers in the state in the wake of the incident in Pune on December 9. We are going to convey the ‘SOP’ prepared by the Forest Department to all the officers; we are also planning to provide guidance and training to police personnel and concerned officers. The police, the Collectorate and the local bodies need to work together to address such issues. We will give a letter to the Chief Minister on what can be done to enhance the rescue operation mechanism.”


He further said, “Given the increasing incidents of wild animal straying into human habitant people call up the police. The role of police is to control the crowd while the rescue team is carrying out their work. If the coordination between the two is in tandem, it is possible to reduce the severity of the incident.”


SOP to be followed by the police department

People crowd to see wild animal that strays into human habitation. The animal is likely to scatter as it does not tolerate noise. Therefore, the local administration should take immediate measures to prevent congestion.

– Forest staff, officials should reach the spot; local administration should disperse the crowd. It is mandatory to keep peace in the place where the animal is.

– Upon receiving the information of the incident, the Deputy Forest Conservator, Assistant Forest Conservator should inform the District Collector and the District or City Police Chief. Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code should be enforced.

– Animal areas need to be dehumanized immediately. This will not endanger humans or wildlife.

– Media representatives should be allowed to travel a certain distance.

– The general public should be prevented from taking photographs on their mobiles.

– As the forest department is short of manpower, the police department should make arrangements to send sufficient manpower to the spot.

– After being caught by the wildlife rescue team, the veterinary officer should conduct a medical examination. The decision to release the animal back into nature should be made according to the inspection report.

Anuj Khare, Member, State Wildlife Board said, “The role of the police in rescue operations is paramount. Therefore, it is necessary to send a letter to the Home Department and send ‘SOPs’ made by the Forest Department to all senior police in the state. Police should also be trained to deal with wildlife incidents, the state’s chief forest ranger has demanded.”