Cheetah Tracking Team Attacked by Villagers in Madhya Pradesh, Four Injured
Burakheda village, MP, 27, May 2023 - In a shocking incident, a six-member cheetah tracking team from Madhya Pradesh became victims of mistaken identity when they were attacked by villagers on Thursday night. The team, assigned with the task of locating Asha, one of the Namibian cheetahs brought to India in September last year, was mistaken for a gang of dacoits by the local residents.
According to forest officials, the team had reached Burakheda village, located in the Sheopur division, based on the GPS tracker attached to Asha. Unaware of the villagers' misconception, they continued their tracking operation in the area, which led to the villagers taking aggressive action against them. Gunshots were fired and the team members were subjected to physical assault and stone pelting.
"The villagers mistook them for dacoits and cattle thieves. They fired at them to shoo the team away. When the team, which did not know they were the target of ire, continued their tracking operation in the area, the villagers attacked them," explained Sheopur divisional forest officer (DFO) Prakash Verma.
As a result of the attack, four members of the cheetah tracking team sustained injuries and were immediately rushed to a nearby community health center in Pohri. Thankfully, their injuries are not life-threatening, and they are currently undergoing treatment and recuperation at the hospital.
In response to the incident, the police have filed a first information report (FIR) under Section 353 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which pertains to assault and obstruction of public servants in the discharge of their duties. The FIR has been registered against 12 unidentified individuals involved in the attack.
The incident has raised concerns about the safety and security measures for tracking teams involved in wildlife conservation projects.