KOCHI: Wildlife-related crimes have increased dramatically in the state and there has been a 100% rise in the number of cases registered in 2020 compared to the previous year.
According to data obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the state registered 303 cases in 2020 as against 151 in 2019 and 61 in 2018. As many as 156 cases were recorded in the state in 2021 till August 26 this year.
Most cases pertained to poaching of endangered animals and reptiles, hunting for meat and illegal trading and possession of horns, tusks, nails, and teeth. Removing tusks or nails and collecting meat from animals that died naturally is also an offence. More than 80% of the total cases registered each year are in connection with poaching of wild animals other than wild boars that cause extensive damage to standing crops.
Besides wild boars, sambar deer, spotted deer, porcupines, monitor lizards, pythons, civets and turtles are among those that fall prey to poaching. Occasionally, elephants, leopard, tigers and wild gaurs are also hunted down, say the data.
“Since movements were restricted during the Covid period, people living adjacent to forests got more opportunities to engage in poaching. Poachers have also improved their intelligence gathering. The presence of wild animals also increased in the fringe areas, leading to the rise in poaching incidents,” said a member of a flying squad of the forest department.
People also lay electric wires to electrocute the animals, besides using poisoning too.
Besides killing the animals, depriving them of food is also an offence, as the data show. Among the registered cases, two are in connection with freeing chickens from the mouth of a python forcefully.