P. Oppili and P.A.J. Sudhakar

Team of wildlife officials conduct raids in various districts

Tirunelveli: Wildlife officials in the State have reported an increase in incidents of lesser known birds and animals being trapped and sold for dubious medicinal use.

Recently a team led by C. Badrasamy, Deputy Director and Wildlife Warden, Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR), Kalakkad, and D. Venkatesh, Deputy Director, KMTR, Ambasamudhram, conducted a 15-day raid in half a dozen districts following reports of illegal collection of sand boas.

Mr. Badrasamy said that during the raid the team rounded up 64 persons who acted as mediators between those who collected them from the wild and prospective buyers. Preliminary investigations revealed that these persons traded in sand boas, barn owls, pangolins and slender loris. The birds and reptiles were considered to have medicinal properties and were in great demand.

Mr. Venkatesh said it was for the first time that a 15-day operation was conducted for securing persons involved in the illegal collection of sand boas. They toured more than half a dozen districts in search of buyers, but in vain. On the demand for sand boas, Mr. Venkatesh said their bones, lungs and hearts were (dubiously) said to have medicinal properties, which could allegedly cure even AIDS.

Each specimen of boa weighing more than 4 kg was in demand. But, many people who raised it in their homes secretively were mostly cheated by some persons, who claimed to be prospective buyers. The KMTR authorities were unable to make further progress in the investigation as they did not have adequate manpower. A senior officer suggested that as was the case in the police force, separate wings to gather intelligence and take up specialised investigation of major cases should be created. Similarly, police and cell phone operators should cooperate to investigate such cases, the officer said. Vigil had to be stepped up in the forest areas of the southern and western districts to stop illegal trapping of such birds, he added.