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Slaughtering of wild animals

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Time demands proper investigation and strict action against involved

By: Jauhar Rafeeq

Last week, wildlife officials and police in a joint operation recovered 8 leopard hides, 4 musk deer pods and 38 bear gallbladders in Anantnag. As per official statement, a team of wildlife officials along with police raided a house at Shirpora Anantnag and recovered 8 leopard hides, 4 musk deer pods and 38 bear gallbladders from the site. In this connection, FIR was registered against the accused person. This opened up a way for further investigation. Efforts should be made to ascertain the possible involvement of other people in the racket.

Illegal wildlife trade is not a new thing in India. Leopard hides fetches the highest prices in international markets. In September 2020, three leopard skins were seized in Odisha. In this connection 4 accused persons were arrested. The accused persons were booked under sections of the IPC and Wildlife Protection Act. Figures show that 155 leopards have been poached in Odisha between 2010-20. In 2014, nine poachers were detained in Maharashtra who were selling leopard skin for 1.5 lakh rupees. According to a study entitled “Illuminating the Blind Spot: A study on illegal trade in leopard parts in India,” four leopards are being poached and their body parts are used in illegal wildlife trade every week in India. Out of 747 Leopard deaths in India between 2015-19, 596 people were linked with poaching and illegal wildlife trade. As per this study, Delhi was found to be a major epicenter of the illegal wildlife trade.

Now the question is that, is there any link between wildlife smugglers of Kashmir and Delhi. This needs to be investigated properly and culprits should be booked under strict laws.

Smuggling of musk deer pods is uncontrolled in India. On December 3, 2020, in a joint operation Wildlife Control Bureau (WCCB) and Assam forest department seized many musk deer pods  in Guwahati. In 2016, three musk deer pods were seized in Ashok Nagar. In 2018, a wildlife smuggling racket of musk deer pods was busted in Sikkim. Musk deer pods, gland secretes a substance which is in high demand in perfumery. Musk is used for treating neurological, cardiac and mental disorders. Scent glands of this species are highly priced in global markets.

Bear gallbladders are also smuggled in several parts of India and in international markets. In 2017, 42 bear gallbladders were seized in Guwahati. In May, 2017, Uttarakhand Forest department seized three bear gallbladders from accused persons. On October 11 2009, two persons were arrested in Uttaranchal in connection with illegal trade of bear gallbladders. At least 300-400 gm of bear bile was seized from the accused persons. In July 2012, 6 bears were killed for gallbladders in Garhwal. Bear biles is used in traditional Chinese medicines. Bear bile fluid contains a significant amount of ursodeoxycholic acid. Some studies show that this acid helps to dissolve gallstones and is used for the treatment of liver diseases. Bear bile is also illegally marketed in international markets for the treatment of cancer.

Wild animals deserve the attention of both government and environmental activists. Illegal trade of wild animals should be stopped in Kashmir as well as in other parts in India. These species are under immense threat. India has a strong legal framework to regulate and restrict wildlife but illegal wildlife trade is happening in parts of the country. The problem is not with the laws but there exists certain faults in the system. Smugglers should be booked under strict laws. Wildlife officials need to work with honesty and dedication. There is also an urgent need to aware people regarding the importance of wildlife. There is an urgent need for knowledge and action to stop all illegal trade that has threatened and even pushed many species towards extinction, say WWF-India.

  • Writer is a Ph. D Scholar at Faculty of Forestry SKUAST-K. He can be reached at jauharparrey93@gmail.com

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