Investigations by the sleuths of the Forest Department into the recent spate of cases of wildlife trafficking have revealed that the State capital is increasingly being seen as a hub of such illegal activities.
There have been as many as 14 cases relating to such wildlife offences in the city within a year. Two cases of wildlife trade were reported in the State capital within a couple of weeks in September.
In these instances, the officials of the Forest and Wildlife Department managed to prevent the sale of a leopard pelt and two red sand boas. While four persons were arrested in the first case, there have been as many as nine arrests made in the latter with the probe likely to bring more to book.
Red sand boa
A few months ago, a person was arrested for possessing a red sand boa in a house in Karette in December, 2014.
A few months later, in February, four others were arrested with possession of a tiger skin from a house near Mangalapuram.
The sleuths have been able to identify a similar modus operandi in all of these cases. Subsequent probes that were conducted in each of these instances brought to light that the items for the illegal trade were mostly brought from Tamil Nadu for sale in the city.
A team has been recently sent to Marthandam in Kanyakumari to trace the origin of the trade.
“The increasing clientele for such products in Thiruvananthapuram and certain other areas nearby has encouraged persons involved in the illegal trade to smuggle, notwithstanding the risk involved in the activity,” official sources told The Hindu .
The improved intelligence network and information gathering mechanism has enabled forest officials in tackling such offences.
“On some instances, the prospective customer has come forward to alert us of such deals. This could be seen as a positive outcome of the preventive measures that were in place.”
However, of late, the investigators have been coming across many cases in which college students worked as agents for such illegal transactions.
“With certain persons willing to splurge exorbitant amounts for animal products, many youngsters have fallen prey to the lure of quick money. This has brought down the risk of getting caught for those behind the trade,” sources said.
The increasing clientele for such products in Thiruvananthapuram and nearby areas has encouraged persons involved in the illegal trade.