18 years after planning, process to certify wildlife trophies begins
The exercise starts in Lansdowne by certifying trophies of Garhwal Riflesdehradun Updated: Jan 30, 2018 22:03 IST
For the first time since state formation, the Uttarakhand forest department on Tuesday started an exercise to certify wildlife trophies -- animal body or body parts in possession of people.
On Tuesday, a team was sent to Lansdowne to certify about 32 wildlife specimens in custody of Garwal Rifles.
The Section 44 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 identifies wildlife trophies illegal if they are not certified by the forest department.
The Act authorises the chief wildlife warden with issuing of such certificates after a due inquiry.
An order in this accord was issued in 2000 after the hill state;s formation asking such owners to submit details of trophies in their possession within 2 years - the time lapsed in 2003. Then, 526 applications were received.
But these applications couldn’t be certified owing to changes in the official structure and lack of strategy for issuing the certificates.
The department now has formulated a methodology under which the animal part will be labelled and bar-coded. This detail will be updated in the official records at the forest headquarters for maintaining statistics.
Digvijay Singh Khati, chief wildlife warden, said, “We will only certify items that were disclosed in the applications submitted in 2003. After finishing this exercise, we will start confiscating items that were not disclosed to us in that year.”
Applications received between 2000 and 2003 include ashrams, members of royal families and the Garhwal Rifles units in Rudraprayag and Lansdowne, according to the forest department records.
Many ashrams and trusts based in Haridwar and Rishikesh are keeping tiger and leopard skins, besides ivory and other wildlife items. The skins are used as meditation mats by them.
At least 34 saints in Haridwar and Rishikesh had applied for the certification. They included Maha Mandaleshwar Swami Surendra Muniji, Swami Shivanand Bharti, Damodar Das Mahant, Mahant Shankar Das ji, Swami Avdheshanand Giri ji Maharaj and others.
In 2013, People for Animals member secretary Gauri Maulekhi informed the CWW office about the illegal possession of 96 trophies in Kumaon. However, no action could be taken then.
RK Mahajan, head of forest force, who is retiring on Wednesday, said: “Now that a system has been formulated, I am sure the certification would be completed and illegal trophies would be seized.”