BENGALURU: The Karnataka government, at a cabinet meeting on January 5, had taken a decision to open a 90-day window for people to surrender wildlife articles in their possession.
The forest department started the exercise of collecting articles and from January 19 to February 7, 19 people have surrendered illegal wildlife articles in their possession, 14 of which are from Bengaluru alone, followed by Mysuru, Dharwad and Dakshina Kannada. The list of items include elephant tusks, tiger claws, gaur horns, deer skin and antlers.
“The response is slow, but is gradually picking up. There is time and people will come gradually. The guidelines and method to surrender is online. People can surrender the items at any forest department office across the state,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Brijesh Kumar Dikshit. The state government has given time till April 9 for people to surrender, during which no case will be filed against them. Legal action will be taken against those found in possession of wildlife articles, after April 9.
The last time the State government had given an opportunity for surrendering wildlife articles was in 2003, with a duration of 180 days. The first such chance was given in 1973 for 30 days, under Rule 34(1) of the Wildlife Conservation (Karnataka Rules), 1973, for individuals to obtain certificates of ownership for wildlife organs and trophies.
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife, Kumar Pushkar said so far they were not checking jewellers or jewellery stores, nor is the department undertaking any investigation.
The government had taken the decision to amend the Wildlife Act for asking people to surrender, after Kannada Bigg Boss candidate Varthur Santosh was nabbed by forest department sleuths in October 2023, for wearing a tiger claw chain. Following the incident, the department had raided the homes of many actors, politicians and influential people, and seized wildlife items, both genuine and fake.