On Wednesday, the Karnataka forest department rescued a number of wild animals that were caged and kept as pets in a senior politician’s farmhouse.
The animals comprising 11 blackbucks, eight spotted deer, seven wild boars, three mongooses and two jackals, were illegally kept at the residential building.
The farmhouse, situated behind a rice mill at Anekonda in Davangere, belongs to Congress senior leader Shamnur Shivashankarappa’s son, SS Mallikarjun Kalleshwar, India Today reported.
Probe into matter underway
“We have registered a case against four accused persons and also, we have obtained a permission from the court to investigate the case,” a forest officer told PTI.
He said that investigation is on to trace the owner of the land and all who perpetrated, aided and abetted this crime.
Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill passed
The recovered animals are protected under The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 (WLPA) in India. Being one of the most diverse countries in the world, India is home to around 7-8 per cent of the world’s recorded species. This rich fauna has been an integral part of the country’s environmental history and has also been instrumental in shaping WLPA as its leading law.
In 2002, the law was amended and came into force in 2003, making punishment and penalty for offences under the Act more stringent. The crimes against wildlife draw a minimum imprisonment of three years which may extend to seven years. A maximum fine of Rs 25,000, depending upon the relevant offences section, was also provisioned. However, with such lenient penalties, which are easily escapable, perpetrators of such crimes mostly walk free.
Recently on December 8 2022, The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, which amends the WLPA significantly, was approved by the Rajya Sabha during the winter session of Parliament. The Lok Sabha approved the Bill in August of this year, aiming to give legally protected species more protection. To accomplish this, the Act will be amended to reflect the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Trafficking cases in past months
The safety of exotic animals has emerged as a major challenge for the authorities as several cases of trafficking from neighbouring countries have been reported in the past couple of months.
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The Assam Police, on September 8 this year, seized 41 “exotic” wild animals and birds at Rangiya from two SUVs in one of the most extensive recoveries of such trafficked animals. As per reports, two kangaroos and 19 primate species, including two suspected chimpanzees, two wild birds and 18 tortoises, were seized.
On October 8, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence arrested two people and seized live exotic animals worth approximately Rs 2.9 crore. The animals were smuggled from Malaysia to Mumbai in the guise of aquarium fish.
The police recovered a total of 30 packages. Of these, 16 contained declared items like various ornamental fishes, and the other 13 had 665 reptiles and wild animals like turtle, tortoise, python, lizard, and iguana. While 548 animals were alive, 117 animals were found dead.
In another case, as many as 140 exotic wildlife species, including an Albino Wallaby, were rescued on October 15 in Mizoram.
The exotic animals were reportedly smuggled from neighbouring Myanmar and smugglers from both countries were involved. In a joint operation, the Champhai police and the Excise and Narcotics Department recovered 30 tortoises, two monkeys, two Marmoset monkeys, 22 pythons, 18 Sumatran water monitors, 55 crocodile hatchlings, four flame bowerbirds, four Serval cats, and one Albino Wallaby.
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