Even though many in the state believe that Kerala has a healthy number of wildlife population, the fact is that the state tops the list of absconders in wildlife crimes registered.
Officials with Forest Department believe that one of the reasons for the high number is lack of proper investigation when wildlife crime is detected and the absence of enforcement activities by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB).
As per details with the Bureau, 141 absconders are involved in wildlife crimes like poaching, smuggling and sale of wildlife products.
There are 83 cases in Kerala, which is the second highest in the country, preceded only by Karnataka.
According to the officials, the high number is due to better detection by the Forest Department.
But after detection, the department often fails to track down the kingpin.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has started giving training under the CBI to forest officials in wildlife crime investigation, but none from the state has received the training yet.
Forest officials believe that poachers in the state are now targeting marine species.
Pipefish, turtles, sea dragon, sea horses, thorny ray, sharks and saw fish are vulnerable due to their high value in the international market.
But the Forest Department does not have any infrastructure to prevent their poaching.
“Although we catch many people smuggling wildlife products, the masterminds are never unearthed. These people often belong to other states and operate from Kerala. Even the department does not have the infrastructure to carry out any investigation and chase the kingpins,” the Forest officials said.
The WCCB, which had set up a sub-regional office at Kakkanad here for Kerala, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands five years ago, is yet to get fully operational in the state. The office has just an inspector and a driver.
Senior Forest officials are not even aware of any such an agency operating in the state.
Although the WCCB often make declarations regarding enhancing the activities of the Kerala sub-regional division, nothing has been done so far.