Hyderabad: In one of the biggest seizures of mongoose hair brushes this year, the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department on June 24 has seized more than 18000 paint brushes from several premises allegedly used by the dealers in the Hyderabad city.
Acting on the information provided by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and the People for Animals (PFA) about the illegal mongoose hair brush trade in the city, forest officials have arrested six traders – Mohit Bharadwaj, D. Nagaraju, T. Nageshwar Rao, Atul Shah, Radha Krishna Tata, Vijay Kapoor, Ather Mohammed, and Shafi Ur Rehaman from different localities.
The other two accused have absconded. Prior to these arrests, a covert operation was initiated by WTI and PFA in the city after this illegal trade was noticed.
A team of forest officials – the Divisional Forest Officer, Wildlife Management Division Hyderabad and three Forest Range Officers from the KBR National Park, Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Park and Mrugavani National Park conducted the seizures. Representatives from WTI and PFA were also present during the raids.
All the accused were produced before the court of 2nd Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Nampally in Hyderabad and a case has been registered against them under various sections of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. The accused have been sent to judicial custody for further investigation by the authorities. Two witnesses in the case, Mir Ahemad Ali, a driver and P. Venkatesh, a laborer who worked under one of the traders have also been examined.
Samples of the seizure that were sent to the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad for examination of the hairs have certified that the samples are of Common Mongoose (Herpesten edwardsi).
According to Ashok Kumar, Vice Chairman of WTI, “The facts and evidences collected in these cases have established that the accused persons have committed the offence under sections 9, 39 (1)b, 39 (3), 40 (2), 44 & 49 B (1)a, and 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.”
“WTI undercover operatives had gathered information on the ongoing trade in the city and the week before this operation, they were able to narrow down on these traders.”
“Information received from other states in South India have indicated that at the moment the traders dealing in mongoose hair brushes are more active here as compared to North India.” said Kumar.
Naresh Kadyan of the PFA said, “Twenty-five cases have been registered against individuals dealing in mongoose hair brush trade in Haryana. Most of these cases are also linked to several states in North and South India.”
The common mongoose is protected under the Part II of Schedule II of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. Offences committed under this provision are punishable with a minimum of three-year imprisonment, which could extend up to seven years and with a fine – not less than rupees ten thousand.
A few decades ago, the common mongoose was widespread across India however due to extensive hunting of the species for their hair – commercially used for making paint brushes has threatened their existence in the wild.
WTI in collaboration with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has been working to stop the commercial use of this animal in several states where mongoose hair brushes are being manufactured and marketed. Awareness campaigns were organized at schools to educate the children and to discourage the use of these brushes who have been the primary users.