The government’s decision to entrust the ongoing probe into the recent elephant poaching incidents and ivory tusk trade with the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has exposed the apathy and callousness on the part of officials at various levels in tackling such crimes in time.
In fact, the WCCB had issued a circular to state DGPs and Principal Chief Conservators of Forest in all states on June 12 (Order No 10-27/WCCB/2014/Part -I/No 02-15/741) asking them to inform the Bureau about the wildlife crimes ‘in time’ as the national agency found that the information from various agencies on seizure of wildlife specimens, articles and detention of persons involved, don’t reach in time. As a result, the WCCB is finding it difficult to coordinate the requisite multi-agency efforts in identification of individuals and networks to effectively counter them. S R V Murthy, Dy Director, WCCB, Chennai, told ‘Express’ the agency had not received any plea or vital information shedding light on the recent elephant poaching incidents and ivory tusk trade from any state agencies in Kerala. “If the Kerala Government wants the WCCB to take up the case, it should inform the WCCB’s Delhi headquarters and the senior officials in Delhi would decided which centre should conduct the probe,” he said.
Wildlife buffs accused the Forest Department officials of colluding with the wildlife mafia. Even after the WCCB issued a circular, they failed to respond and even tried to conceal the gravity of the crimes being taken place in the state’s forests.
The WCCB assistant director had visited the Edamalayar forest range recently after the Heritage Animal Task Force submitted a plea to the Bureau seeking investigation into the elephant poaching incident. But the officials often mislead the national agency by reporting that the elephants died of various diseases like ‘erandakettu’ or were female elephants that do not have tusks,” said V K Venkitachalam, secretary of the Task Force.
Meanwhile, the Greens have raised doubts over the efficiency of the WCCB’s sub-regional office in Kerala in collecting intelligence related to organised wildlife crime in Kerala. The intelligence sleuths with the agency have to collect and collate inputs on organised wildlife crime activities and pass on the same to the enforcement agencies for immediate action so as to apprehend the criminals and to establish a centralised Wildlife Crime Data Bank. But the office in Kochi is understaffed. The lone inspector posted at the sub-regional office has to single-handedly manage the entire affairs of Kerala.
The agency could register only eight cases in the last one year. The cases were related to the import and export of wildlife-related specimens. When contacted, the sub-regional office confirmed that there was only one staffer to manage the office.
Two More Held in Poaching Case
Kochi: The Forest Department officials investigating the Edamalayar elephant poaching case on Wednesday recorded the arrest of two more accomplices of poaching racket kingpin Aikkaramuttom Vasu of Kothamangalam, who was found dead at his hideout. So far, 21 persons have been arrested. The arrested have been identified as Kothamangalam natives Ajesh and Pradeep.