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Karnataka forest dept to send wildlife artefacts recovered during raids for forensic analysis

Bengaluru: The Karnataka Forest Department said on Thursday that it will be sending wildlife artefacts recovered from the residences of prominent personalities during raids the day before to the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India for forensic analysis to check their authenticity.

Multiple teams of senior officials from the department raided the residences of film actor Darshan Toogudeepa, actor-politicians Jaggesh and Nikhil Kumaraswamy and film producer ‘Rockline’ Venkatesh here and Vinay Guruji in Shivamogga, among others, against whom complaints have been received that they are allegedly in possession of wildlife articles.

The Forensic Science Laboratory here does not have the expertise in wildlife forensic analysis and, so, all the exhibits collected, whether it is fake or genuine, will be sent to the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun for forensic examination, a senior forest officer said.

Based on the outcome of the forensic analysis and further investigation, action will be initiated against them under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 if they are found in possession of wildlife articles, he said.

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Kumar Pushkar said the Deputy Conservator of Forest will take action and send the exhibits collected from different places to the Wildlife Institute of India.

‘All the exhibits collected from the places against whom complaints were received will be sent to the Wildlife Forensic and Conservation Genetics Cell of the Wildlife Institute of India. The fake as well as genuine exhibits, whatever we have received — all of them will be sent and tested for their genuineness. The process takes time..,’ he told PTI.

Contestant of Bigg Boss Kannada reality show Varthur Santosh was arrested from the set on Sunday for allegedly wearing a tiger claw pendant. He was later sent to 14 days in judicial custody.

Following his arrest, social media was flooded with photos of actors Darshan, Jaggesh, who is also a Rajya Sabha member, and JD(S) leader Nikhil Kumaraswamy purportedly wearing such pendants. Several organisations wrote to the forest department seeking action against them.

Nikhil, son of former Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, clarified that the tiger claw pendant that he was seen wearing was fake.

In the wake of many complaints of people having wildlife artefacts, the forest department on the direction of the Environment and Forest Minister Eshwar Khandre formed a special task force (STF) to look into them as well as the status of past cases relating to them.

Khandre had said the law of the land is applicable to all without any discrimination and the government will act as per the law.

The STF would also suggest measures to create public awareness and would submit a comprehensive report on the steps to be taken to prevent the sale of products and items made from any part of wild animals, including tiger claws and its teeth.

Khandre has directed the STF to submit a report within a week about the cases (complaints) registered since the Wildlife Protection Act came into force, the action taken under the law and the steps to be taken in the cases currently registered and being registered.

(Published 26 October 2023, 10:38 IST)

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