By Archana Jyoti
With high-tech peddlers increasingly turning to cyberspace an easy route to carry wildlife trade, it's time the enforcement agencies in India wake up to this threat and initiate web patrolling to curb the menace, experts say.
After parkeet, peacocks and turtles, endangered species of owls are the latest in the series being sold online as was exposed with the arrest of a wildlife trader and two of his associates last week from Thrissur in Kerala.
The poachers had put advertisement of owl sale on the internet, communicating through masked phone numbers, international network to confuse the enforcement officials, said Ashok Kumar, vice-chairman of Wildlife Trust of India which assisted the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and Kerala Forest Department’s Intelligence Cell in busting the racket.
The online advertisement displayed the photograph of the owls labelled as 'silver owl' with a note describing it as "a very rare species".
"The decoy customer and the traders initially communicated through emails. On the next phase, the traders contacted the decoy customer through masked phone numbers with varying country codes using hi-tech software to ensure that their location is not traced. In fact, the online advertisement which did not give divulge details about the seller, was posted from Dubai to throw enforcement officials off track," said Kumar.
Experts say that an owl could fetch between Rs 3 lakhs to 5 lakhs in the international market where their demand is on increase. More....