Express news service
BENGALURU: Disturbing trends are emerging in wildlife crime. Smugglers and poachers, in cahoots with locals, now prefer to target small, protected terrestrial and aquatic animal species and their products rather than larger species like wild cats and herbivores. From the skins of animals like tigers, leopards and deer, poachers have now focused on products derived from smaller animal species.
Wildlife experts are convinced of this while noting an increased frequency of abandoned bags with small animal species, left behind when pursued by law enforcement. âBetween the late 1990s and 2013, many cases of poachers with the skins of tigers, leopards and other wild animals were found. Now that has gradually shifted to smaller turtles, turtles, pangolins, and other smaller species.
In recent years, we’ve even seen an increase in cases of targeted aquatic species, âa wildlife crime expert told The New Indian Express. âThis is clear from the increased number of cases of smaller protected animal species found stacked in hessian bags, suitcases, shoulder bags and other luggage. “
Wildlife Crime Control Bureau detectives have pointed out that the number of cases of ambergris (a solid waxy substance that comes from the gut of the sperm whale, a protected aquatic species) has also increased in recent years.
Cases of smuggling of ambergris from coastal areas of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are also on the rise. Despite this, there is no strict watch in the lesser-known coastal areas, which are used by smugglers to move ambergris, which is very expensive and in great demand in the perfume industry.
“Model in wild animal cases, but officials ignore it”
In addition, experts also note a marked change in the modus operandi of transporting and transporting animals and their products entering or leaving contraband. âWhile every case of wildlife is different, there is a pattern. About three months ago, more than 2,000 turtles were collected from Chennai Airport. Before that it was at Bengaluru airport, then there was a case at Hyderabad airport. Now when cases are detected at airports, the mode of transportation of wildlife is shifting to roads, âthe expert said.
âFurther analysis shows a definite pattern. It is obvious to us. But this does not seem to be the main concern of forestry officers, police or customs. The repeated cases also show that there is a lack of coordination, understanding and in-depth evaluation between the different agencies, âsaid another recognized expert, on condition of anonymity.
He also pointed out that residents are involved in helping poachers and smugglers for their own subsistence. âWe know the residents are involved, and information about them has been given to detectives. But still, there is no action. All they say is they are watching closely, but what good is it? Sniffer dogs remain inactive, âhe said.
Experts have warned that just because wildlife smugglers start transporting animals and products by road, making it easier for them to be chased and captured, should it not lead agencies to praise each other. . âThe seizure of star turtles in two cases is like the icing on the cake, but many other bags moved to their destination undetected. This is an indication that the network of poachers is stronger and larger than that of detectives â, underlined an expert.