Forest dept incinerates seized wildlife articles

For the first time, the Forest Department has incinerated parts and products of wild animals seized from illegal traders.

Amid tight security, officials on Tuesday struck a match to the heap of animal products at the Jarakabande Kaval depot on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

Among the items consigned to fire were 20 boxes of snakes, spotted deer, otter barking deer and jackal pelts, besides monitor lizard skin, antlers and turtle shells.

In all, officials destroyed 1,000 skins, 100 horns and 48 vanity bags made of skins of crocodiles, lizards, turtle shells and snakes. These items are over 30 years old and are cleared of all court cases.

In October 2017, Chief Wildlife Warden C Jayaram gave the orders to burn the products.

Moving forward, the department would immediately dispose of wildlife items after they are cleared of all cases under section 39/2-C of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. The idea is to underscore the fact that they are worthless.

“This is the first time so many articles were incinerated at once,” Bengalurus Deputy Conservator of Forests Dipika Bajpai said. “The items were piled inside a pit and were set ablaze. Our attempts to burn them earlier did not happen.”

She said magistrates permission was taken to burn each of the items and the department was still left with over a ton of wildlife products. “Were handling each of the items individually and are seeking the courts clearance as early as possible,” Bajpai said.

Chief Wildlife Warden C Jayaram said the items were torched in a bonfire since they were in a bad condition. Moreover, the department did not want anyone to keep trophies or wildlife items since they did not have any value.

“The department and the government have ordered the tusks to be handed to the defence establishments for safekeeping and for display only,” Jayaram added.

The department is still left with deer, leopard, tiger, sloth bear skins and ivory. Over 25 guards were deployed to monitor the items round the clock, besides CCTV cameras.

The items have been seized from hotels, houses, markets, airport and educational institutions in the city.

Officials and conservationists have been calling the government to incinerate wildlife items for a long time. The calls grew louder after large amounts of tusks were torched in Africa when poaching and wildlife cases grew in 2017.

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