Concerned about growing illegal wildlife trade linked to Tamil Nadu, Maneka Gandhi, MP, has written to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin asking him to ensure the protection of wildlife and empower the police to do the same.
In a letter on Thursday, a copy of which is available with The Hindu, Ms. Gandhi said: “A number of forest guards and officials have been caught over the last few years poaching and selling wildlife items. They are protected by senior forest officers who do not want to expose corruption in the department. But the result has been a massacre in the last ten years of elephants in Tamil Nadu, so much so that the CBI has had to step in”.
Citing a recent incident where an individual, Kaliyappan from Krishnagiri district, was arrested by the Bengaluru police while trying to sell elephant tusks, she said he had confessed that his son worked in the Forest Department and the tusks were stolen from the Range Forest office. Ms. Gandhi alleged that inquiries were being dragged on for months without any conclusion.
“Bengaluru Police are continually seizing wildlife skins and tusks which are coming from Tamil Nadu,” she said in the letter and urged Mr. Stalin to empower the Tamil Nadu police to enforce the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
“Wildlife crime is the second largest form of crime in the world. In order to lessen it, most Indian States empowered the police to enforce the Wildlife Act decades ago. In fact, Karnataka and Odisha have a CID Forest Cell of police exclusively for Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,” she said in the letter.