Thriving wild animal teeth market in Uttarakhand
Teeth of wild animals like leopards, believed by the people of the hill state to “ward off fear”, has seen an increasing demand in the local markets, wildlife experts say.
Used as talisman hung around the neck, especially of children, teeth of wild animals has a huge market in the state, some of them say.
On September 29, officials of TRAFFIC (Trade Record Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce) India along with the state forest department arrested two persons and seized molars of leopards, canine of a muck deer and an owl from them in Rudraprayag’s Ukhimath. Another person was arrested later.
“The canine of leopards and tigers are used in Chinese medicines. But, the molars are sold to people who believe it will keep fear at bay, says Saket Badola, head TRAFFIC India.
“We also recovered canine of a musk deer that is also sold for similar beliefs,” he tells Hindustan Times.
Experts said while canine of big cats fetch more than ₹50,000 each in the international market, the molars are sold for ₹10,000 to ₹30,000, depending on the person who buys it.
In northern India, especially in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi, the fangs are extremely popular, some of them say.
The local network is thriving, says Tito Joseph, programme manager at Delhi-based Wildlife Protection Society of India.
People often approach pet shops, bird watchers, guides and those associated with wildlife to buy tooth of wild species, he says.
“By wearing the tooth one becomes fearless and the belief has generated a big market.”
The seizure of teeth of wild animals has for the first time highlighted how there is a market of animal body parts in the state, a retired forest official, who did not want to be named, says.
“There is a big demand for tooth of big cats. But, many a times tooth of other wild animals like musk deer, sambhar, cheetal too are sold passing it off as tiger teeth.”
Dhananjai Mohan, additional principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife and intelligence) says there is an urgent need to sensitize people. “If people stop believing these myths, many of our wildlife species will be saved.”