Many autorickshaws plying across towns in the State, particularly in north Karnataka, sport blackbuck horns as a lucky charm. So high is the demand that automobile spare part dealers, apparently, keep a waiting list of autorickshaw owners, who want to purchase the blackbuck horn and display it as a trophy atop their vehicles.
But, the Forest Department has now cracked the whip on autorickshaws that sport such horns. The action was taken following a report submitted by the Forest Department officials claiming that more than 2,000 such autorickshaws plied across towns in the State.
Based on the report, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Deepak Sharma on September 13 wrote to Director-General and Inspector-General of Police L.R. Pachau, Transport Department officials and Forest officials seeking stringent action against the vehicles under the Wildlife Protection Act.
The illegal practice is found to be rampant in Chitradurga, Haveri, Davangere, Dharwad, Belgaum, Gokak, Gadag, Bijapur, Bagalkot, Bellary, Hassan, Ranebennur and Tumkur, said Mr. Sharma in the letter.
Though this practice has been going on for more than a decade and a half, the matter was brought to the notice of PCCF through a report submitted by Chief Warden of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Forest Cell R. Sharath Babu.
“It is suspected that as this stretch is close to Ranebennur Blackbuck Sanctuary and the poachers and hunters are active in the region, the illegal practice has spread across the border into neighbouring States as well,” Mr. Babu told The Hindu.
“Inquiries revealed the horns were available for a price ranging between Rs. 600 and Rs. 1,000, but they had to be booked in advance,” he said.
He said the autorickshaw owners found that the horns would “ward off evil and bring them good luck”.
The blackbucks are Schedule 1 species coming under the Antelope Family and covered under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The blackbuck does not naturally discard or shed its horns in its life time; the animal has to be poached to harvest the horns, Mr. Babu added.
This meant that there was a wider network involved and needed a thorough investigation, Mr. Babu said in his report, which also included the registration number of autorickshaws that sported these horns. The Forest Department has also sent a copy of the order to the Ranebennur blackbuck sanctuary, for necessary action since the horns are suspected to have been smuggled from this region.