By Richa Sharma
NEW DELHI:Following the spurt witnessed in the illegal multi-billion dollar wildlife trade, the Centre has issued an advisory to the states urging them to sensitise officers for prosecuting people involved in such activities under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).
The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) under the Ministry for Environment and Forests (MoEF) has told state police chiefs that there is an urgent need to identify strategies and approaches that can successfully check the illicit wildlife trade. “In this regard, it is essential that the criminals involved, in particular, the kingpins, who control the illegal trade, are prosecuted and penalised to provide an effective deterrent. There is also the need to ensure that the criminals involved in the illegal wildlife trade do not benefit from the proceeds of their crimes, by incorporating anti-money laundering and asset forfeiture components into investigations and prosecutions,” said the advisory. Globally, the illegal trade in wildlife and its products is estimated to be worth over $19 billion annually. Driven by the promise of high profit margins, it has become one of the most lucrative black market activities in the world.
According to the MoEF, poaching of rare and endangered Indian wildlife species confined mainly to the protected areas, is propelled by international demand and in the case of certain species it has reached alarming proportions.
As for issuing the necessary instructions to the field officials, it was suggested that the cases should be referred to the Directorate of Enforcement wherever prosecution proceedings had been launched for wildlife crimes involving substantial value or against a person, who had amassed wealth over a period of time by committing these offences.