42 tortoises found dead in Keetham lake
AGRA: Keetham Lake located inside the Soor Sarovar Bird sanctuary is under threat from local poachers. According to officials, instances of poachers laying out nets in the lake has gone up in recent times. After 42 tortoises were found dead and 12 in serious condition in a net on Friday, the wildlife department has launched a massive hunt to nab the culprits. Sources said the role of some forest security guards in this crime is also suspected.
Even on Saturday, nets were found in the lake during a patrolling by wildlife officials. Divisional Forest officer (Chambal) Anil Patel said, « The area is surrounded by many villages. There are chances that poachers from these nearby localities might have spread to nets to catch fish, tortoise and other amphibians. However the spot where the net was found on Friday is not a secluded one, but the one which is frequently used by tourists. It raises our doubt that some local forest staff could be involved. »
This suspicion was corroborated by wildlife warden Tribhuwan Singh, who is camping at the lake. « Small nets measuring 10-12 meter are being thrown in the lake. No doubt that local villagers are involved, but they could not continue without some support from the inside. »
According to information, the net was spotted was a tourist on Friday, who alerted the wildlife officials. After one hour rescue operation, 12 tortoises could be saved.
Incidentally, all the amphibians rescued from poachers from various areas are released in Keetham lake. Last month around 800 tortoises from Mainpuri were also released here.
Keetham lake, is about 20 km from Agra within the Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, which was declared as National Bird Sanctuary in 1991 by U.P. Forest Department. The entire lake is formed in a catchment area of 7.13 square km. Keetham Lake is pentagonal in shape. There are artificially created islands for shelter and breeding grounds to the migratory birds.