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State govt departments in Maharashtra join hands to solve crimes related to wildlife

The idea is to increase coordination between departments for prompt action on wildlife crime cases and make officers aware about the status of protected species in India

mumbai Updated: Nov 21, 2017 15:53 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra,Poaching,Protected species
There have been 486 cases of illegal trade of protected animal and bird species in Maharashtra over the past seven years.(Pic for Representation)

Maharashtra will create a special intelligence network to deal with smuggling and poaching of protected wildlife species.

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) directed government departments to depute nodal officers to coordinate with each other for quicker investigation of cases.

The police, forest department, customs, directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI), enforcement directorate (ED), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Railway Protection Force, State Reserve Police Force, coast guard, municipal corporations from Thane, Navi Mumbai and Mumbai, Mumbai’s municipal zoo, Botanical Survey of India and Zoological Survey of India will have a nodal officer for wildlife crime.

The decision was taken last week during an inter-agency coordination meeting on ‘Strengthening Wildlife Law Enforcement in Western Region’.

Chaired by N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell, the meeting was attended by WCCB and various departments.

The idea is to increase coordination between departments for prompt action on wildlife crime cases and make officers aware about the status of protected species in India, said officials.

“Each agency with a designated nodal officer will help communicate new developments on wildlife crime, share information and build a better communication and intelligence network,” said Vasudevan. “This will also help the state develop an effective combative strategy regarding wildlife crime sensitive areas, route maps and centres where trade takes place.”

There have been 486 cases of illegal trade of protected animal and bird species in Maharashtra over the past seven years, according to data collated by Delhi-based NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI).

Of these, around 50% or 242 cases were reported from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), which comprises Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai.

The WPSI members said Mumbai was the hub for international trade due to its connectivity through land, air and sea.

“Products such as animal skin and elephant ivory are smuggled to other places through Mumbai. Red sanders (a rare kind of wood) are smuggled in large numbers through the port. Leopard skin, elephant ivory, mollusks, star tortoises and spotted black terrapins account for most of the exports,” said Tito Joseph, programme coordinator, WPSI.

Various agencies such as Haffkine Institute in Parel, Marine Products Export Development Authority in Nariman Point, Plant Quarantine Regional Station, Sewri and Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratory, Kalina, will help research the cases.

“A number of seizures related to snake venom, watch straps made from salt water crocodile leather and exotic birds is taking place through social media. For this, each of the institutes will help us track down cases faster,” said M Maranko, regional director, WCCB.

He added that inter-agency exchange of information will help share details of wildlife cases, criminal profiles of habitual offenders detected by the agencies so that they can be updated within the centralised database of WCCB.

“We have planned displaying the legal status of wild animals used during trade on public display boards at tourist spots across the state,” said Maranko.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Byculla zoo have been roped in for safe custody of seized wild animals and birds.

First Published: Nov 21, 2017 15:53 IST