By Saibal Gupta
The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has recently traced at least 200 websites all over the country, which are being used by people to trade in animal parts.
Online business of animal parts is conducted through popular shopping and free ad posting websites, websites of various companies and even social networking sites, says the Bureau.
The WCCB says that tech-savvy sellers, who know how to "morph" their trade, are growing in numbers.
"Online trade of animal parts is rapidly increasing. In most cases, the buyers and sellers are foreigners and keep their identity hidden. So, after investigating into the case for a while, we have to stop it. We are contemplating on writing to the wildlife representatives of several countries to jointly work against this crime," additional deputy director, WCCB, S B Negi said.
"A month ago, we were able to nab a person who placed an advertisement on a free ad website expressing his willingness to sell tiger's teeth. We wrote to the website authority and managed to arrest the seller, son of a renowned public prosecutor of Kolkata. We handed him over to the forest department," a WCCB officer said. Currently, this case is lying with the high court. "If found guilty, he is liable to imprisonment up to seven years," a forest department officer said.
"This was an easy catch but all cases are not so. People are found trading not only in animal parts but even live animals. Social networking sites have become an effective medium for these kinds of deals. People use code names such as 'Aloo' (potato) for musk deer, 'kola' (banana) for elephant's tusk, etc. to carry out the business clandestinely. Accordingly, they place their orders and goods are delivered," the officer said.
According to another official, "We have found a total of 20 websites in West Bengal which are used to trade in animal parts. A fishing company website is used to buy and sell one or two illegal items among the various legal products."
"People involved in this trade are tech-savvy and can even hide their IP address. We have hired cyber specialists but we need to have a more coordinated effort and that only can stop this crime," Negi said.