Bengaluru: In a major breakthrough, sleuths from the Forest Mobile Squad Mysore (FMS), busted a pet trade, involving palm civets for the first time. The raid was conducted on a house outside Mysore City where two civets were being reared in a cage. The owner of the palm civets, who is now behind bars, had agreed to sell the civets for Rs 1 lakh, but the sleuths were able to nab him before he could do so. They carried out a search for a pangolin too, but did not find the prized catch.
This is the first instance, where palm civets, held to be sold in the pet trade, were caught. Palm civets fetch a heavy price in the pet trade as they are considered rare. Mr M K Ravindra, head of FMS Mysore, said that the accused Raju Puttaiah, a Soliga tribesman, was rearing the civets at his residence. Neighbours had tipped off the foresters about these civets when the accused had placed the cage outside the house in the sun. The neighbours had also claimed that the person had a pangolin along with the civets till recently. However no pangolin was found at the time of the raid which took place on Tuesday.
"We are still investigating the hunting and trading of civets which are new to the wildlife racket. The accused have confessed to hunting down civets in Maadhalli Reserve Forests between Mysore and H D Kote. “The accused has been handed over to the police and the palm civets will be sent to Mysore zoo for rehabilitation,” the officer said.
Wildlife conservationists demanded that the state forest ministry take the incident seriously. They say pet traders are now looking at animals smaller and less protected. There are four types of civets found in the state, out of which three are protected under the Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act. The endangered Malabar Civet is placed under Schedule I of the Act.
“Animals such as palm civets, which are sometimes wrongly referred as civet cats, jackals and pangolins are often hunted outside the Protected Areas where protection measures are weak. The government and the Forest Department can consider strengthening the Forest Mobile Squads and CID Forest Cells in order to increase protection measures in forests other than Tiger Reserves and National Parks,” suggested a conservationist from Mysore.