Bengaluru: Days after arresting a reality TV contestant for sporting a tiger claw pendant on the show, forest officials on Wednesday went after actors Darshan, Nikhil Kumaraswamy and Jaggesh (who is also a Rajya Sabha member), producer Rockline Venkatesh and other celebrities accused of possessing wildlife body parts.
After the arrest of Santosh Kumar, aka Vartur Santosh, his fans and wildlife activists had questioned the department for not acting against influential actors for years.
On Wednesday, teams of officials went to the residences of those under the lens after photos of their illegal possession of wildlife parts went viral.
“Nikhil Kumaraswamy and Darshan handed over the claw-like materials in their pendants. Prima facie, they seem to be synthetic material. We are looking into the authenticity of the claw worn by Jaggesh, which seems to be very old,” a senior official told DH, adding that searches will continue and a detailed statement will be made after the verification of the materials.
Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy came out in defence of his son. “The pendant worn by Nikhil was given during his marriage. I myself invited the officials to check it. It’s a claw-like artefact made of synthetic material,” he said.
In Koppa, Chikkamagaluru district, officials searched the premises of Vinay ‘Guruji’. “We have spoken to Vinay and collected information about tiger skin. We have been told that the tiger skin and head were gifted by a person named Amarendra Kiriti and that they have been returned,” Deputy Conservator of Forest Nandish said.
Forest officials also searched the premises of a temple run by Dhananjaya Swamiji in Kunigal taluk. Anil, a close aide of the swami, handed over a locket which contained a claw-like material.
Forest, Ecology and Environment Minister Eshwar Khandre said the department will continue to send messages about the conservation of wildlife. “Everyone is equal before the law. Possessing and sporting wildlife parts prohibited by the law will send a wrong message to the society. We will look into each complaint and take action as per the rules,” he said.
(Published 25 October 2023, 23:24 IST)