Amid the raging controversy over the illegal possession of wildlife items, in a 20-day-long operation, the Vyalikaval police unearthed a wildlife trade racket and arrested five smugglers who were selling sand boa, an elephant tusk, and six pairs of deer horns.
On being alerted about the illegal trade, a team led by inspector Shankaragowda Basanagoudara approached the accused in three places and lured them into a trap.
“It was difficult to convince the accused, who would not meet us in person until they were convinced that we were actual buyers,” Mr. Shankaragowda said.
The police made an elaborate plan to lure the alleged smugglers. They created a fake identity and cooked up a story that they were wildlife artefact collectors to convince the accused to meet them.
The police arrested Chandrashekhar M.D., 43, from Mysuru when he arrived with two sand boas for sale. The next day, they pinned down Rangaswamy, 38, from Tumakuru, and Lokesh, 33, from Kanakapura, along with an elephant tusk.
The police are trying to ascertain the source of the tusk.
They suspect Rangaswamy and Lokesh of being part of a gang of poachers that hunt down wildlife in the forests in and around Ramanagara.
Deer horns seized
In another development, the team nabbed Shekhar K.M., 40, from Nagamangala in Mandya district, and his associate Raymond Mariyappa, 45, from Ramanagara. They seized six pairs of deer horns which the duo had brought to Bengaluru to sell to the police team. The duo is suspected to be part of a group that hunts deer to consume its meat and sell the horns.
All the accused have been booked under various sections of the Wildlife Act.
The issue has been in the spotlight after several celebrities in Karnataka were accused of possessing tiger claw pendants, including Kannada film actor Darshan Thoogudeepa, a former brand ambassador of the Forest Department, and actor and Rajya Sabha member Jaggesh. This was triggered by the arrest of Bigg Boss Kannada Season 10 contestant Varthur Santhosh for allegedly wearing a tiger claw pendant on the show.