Op to curb illegal trade in creatures of a lesser god
With the help of Interpol and other international agencies, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau launched ‘Operation Lesknow’ on Tuesday to check illegal wildlife trade of lesser-known species in the country. The operation will exclude big cats, birds, elephants, marine species, rhino and turtles.
The operation will cover species which do not receive attention during other operations. These are Assamese macaque, bonnet macaque, pig-tailed macaque, rhesus macaque, stump-tailed macaque, hanuman langur, sambar, Indian muntjac, hog deer, spotted deer, goral wild boar, jackal, striped hyena, Himalayan red dog, wild dog, Ladakh dhole, common red fox, Bengal fox, Indian fox, jungle cat, Tibetan pole cat and large toothed fem badger.
The operation will be carried out till August 31. A four-page detailed note by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau states that with the help of other enforcement agencies across the country, the Bureau will go all out to nab criminals and poachers.
The other species, shortlisted for operation ‘Lesknow’, include pangolin, spinner dolphin, hump backed dolphin, bottle-nosed dolphin, dwarf sperm whale, Eastern Himalayan marmot, Malabar giant squirrel, grey mongoose, rudy mongoose, brown mongoose, Indian wild ass and pallas’s squirrel (callosciurus erythraeus).
According to reports, wildlife poachers in the recent past have also shifted their focus towards lesser known animals due to increased attention of the enforcement agencies towards illegal trade in bigger species such as tiger, leopard, rhino and turtles.
The internal note of ‘Operation Lesknow’, stated that the operation would be jurisdiction specific in which the States and agencies will cooperate with each other on matters having inter-State links so that the networks involved in the crimes are detected and apprehended.
“During the operation, the enforcement agencies in each State and Union Territories will focus on the collection of Intelligence related to the species shortlisted for the operation. Based on the information develop actionable Intelligence, the operation would be conducted,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.
Officials of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau said that monitor lizards, especially the Bengal monitor, were once commonly seen across the country. Now they are scarce due to rampant poaching. Little is known about the levels of illegal trade or its impact on species such as sea cucumbers, sea horses or Red Sand, the “double-headed” snake, which has recently been in demand due to new superstitions attached to it.
“Pangolins are highly threatened because they are subject to a colossal illegal trade internationally, yet their plight is barely publicized in conservation or media circles. Others, like the monitor lizard, mongoose, star tortoises, spiny-tailed lizards, freshwater and marine turtles also need immediate attention,” said the sources.
The note further pointed out that wildlife trafficking is wiping out Earth’s most iconic species, funding organised crime, and threatening the economic and global security.
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