THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) has assured to put a check on animal sacrifice believed to be performed in certain areas of Kasargod, in spite of the government authorities “being aware of it’’.
In the backdrop of alleged animal sacrifice in some areas of Kasargod, Board Chairman Oommen V Oommen said: “ We will write to the Kasargod Collector immediately. We will request him to implement the Forest Conservation Act and the Wildlife Protection Act in full, so that no wild animal is sacrificed. The season is till April.’’
The chairman’s assurance came right after a speech by an environmentalist from Kasargod at the National Biodiversity Congress being held here. The environmentalist K Praveenkumar, who is part of an NGO called ‘Neythal’, had claimed that animal sacrifice was still a part of the Wayanad Kulavan Theyyam in some parts of Kasargod, despite the District Collector and Forest officials being aware of it.
Wayanad Kulavan Theyyam is held in various parts of Kannur and Kasargod. With time, most temples have moved on to a symbolic ritual where instead of an animal, they chop cucumber or dried fish.
However according to Praveenkumar, certain ‘kavus’ between Kanhangad and Manjeswaram still encourage the sacrifice of wild animals like wild boar, barking deer, monkey, porcupine, civet and Malabar giant squirrel.
The hunting of wildlife invites penalties. Moreover, as some of these animals are entitled to absolute protection under Schedule I and II of the Wildlife Protection Act, the penalties are harsh. But no action is taken against the rituals, as the office-bearers of the festival committee are highly influential people.
“During the elections, around 2000 rifles were surrendered. The actual number of arms could be around 5000. They use power and muscle to silence anyone who work to act against such a ritual. In order to that no one raises a finger at them, the committee members would appoint the DFO or the Collector as an office-bearer without informing either of them. The authorities can only be helpless witnesses, as political party leaders would side with them for fear of disturbing votebanks,’’ said Praveenkumar.
E Unnikrishnan, another activist from Kasargod, said: ‘’If a ritual is against life, it is a social evil.’’ He has written articles about it, but is surprised that no action is taken to curb it.
Praveenkumar had come down to Thiruvananthapuram to explain their conservation work related to Olive Ridley Turtles, which ‘Neythal’ had undertaken for the past 13 years. The NGO has successfully spread awareness regarding theimportance of turtle eggs lain on Kasargod’s beaches. The local residents who used to dig up the eggs to eat them, has now become conservationists, as they understood how special the turtles were, said Praveenkumar.