Police nab duo with seize tiger skin, Forest Department says its fake

Apr 05, 2018, 12:54 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav and Anamika Gharat

Vitthalwadi police issue a press note about the seized item, while forest officials say it is not that of a tiger; the sample will be sent to a forensic lab for verification

The police with the duo held for possession of the (below) skin
The police with the duo held for possession of the (below) skin

If the police don't co-ordinate with the Forest Department to identify seized body parts including the skin of wild animals, there is a chance they may spread misinformation. On Monday, the Vitthalwadi police issued a press note, saying they had arrested two people with a tiger skin in their possession. However, the skin is believed to be of some other animal which was painted with stripes, to dupe the customer. The Forest Department will send the skin to a forensic lab for confirmation.

Highly placed sources in the Thane Forest Department (Territorial) told mid-day that the skin that was seized from two people in Ulhasnagar does not appear to be original. "We are confident that it is not a tiger skin. I think the Forest Department should be consulted every time the police find something related to wildlife, because our people are in a better position to identify them," said an official from the Forest Department.

There is a demand for tiger and leopard skin in the black market, as there are various myths attached to them, one being that it brings good luck. People have sold duplicate skins and have earned huge amounts of money because of this.

Skin

Need for co-ordination
Wildlife experts and people working in the field of conservation feel that there is a need of coordination between the forest department and police officials.

Honorary Wildlife Warden of Mumbai suburbs, Mayur Kamath said, "I feel there should be better coordination between the police and Forest Department. Whenever the police officials seize any wildlife items including skin or bones, before arriving at a conclusion they should consult the Forest Department and experts so that wrong information is not spread."

Skin sent to forensic lab
On Monday, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone IV, Ankit Goel circulated a press note stating that the Vitthalwadi police had arrested father-son duo Hareshkumar Hansrajani and Deepak Hansarajani, for illegally possessing the skin of a tiger. A case was also registered under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, for illegally possessing the tiger skin and keeping it in their shop in Ulhasnagar. DCP Goel said, "We have arrested two people for possessing the tiger skin and it was handed over to the Forest Department."

However, Range Forest Officer Chandrakant Shelke from Thane Forest Department (Territorial) said, "The Vitthalwadi police have decided to send the skin to Pune for confirmation about the species of animal to which it belongs. Later they will hand over the skin to us after which we will carry out further investigation."

Vithalwadi police station senior PI SJ Shirsat said, "We have sent the skin to the Zoological Survey of India, Pune, to check whether it is real. We will then send it to the Forest Department. We have doubts whether it is of a dog."

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