Monday, October 08, 2007

Soon, forensic vans in Gir to bolster police probe


Soon, forensic vans in Gir to bolster police probe

Indian Express By Vikram Rautela

Ahmedabad, October 6 Recent poaching incidents in Gir have now forced the Gujarat Government to improve police investigations into wildlife crime. The government now wants the Directorate of Forensic Science (DFS) at Gandhinagar to provide special round-the-clock forensic van services in the only natural habitat of Asiatic Lions in the world.

The step comes close on the heels of a special wildlife cell that was set up at CID headquarters a few months ago. The state Forest department is preparing the proposal of the project — which aims at stepping up security and vigilance at the sanctuary and bolstering investigations of wildlife crime — with the help of experts from DFS and Precision Operation System (India) Private Ltd in Ahmedabad.

“Equipped with the state-of-the-art facilities, the vans will have a team of experts from DFS on board. The experts will collect and preserve crucial forensic evidence from the site, to help us and the police to investigate such cases,” said principal chief conservator (wildlife) Pradeep Khanna.

According to sources in DFS, the vans will be connected with the Regional Forensic Laboratory (RFS) in Junagadh, which, in turn, will be linked to the central laboratory at DFS.

As part of the project, parapet walls, too, will be built on more than 8,000 open wells in Gir forest. Such wells have claimed lives of more than 25 lions in the past five years.

“Construction of parapet walls will be carried out in a phased manner. Our target is to cover 2,000 open wells this year," said Khanna.

Survival of the endangered Asiatic lions in Gir has been an issue for years. At last count, a government survey in 2005 had put their number at 359. In the last two years, several lions died in floods.

The project also aims at checking such deaths and providing emergency rescue service. “We will soon invite tenders for the project,” said Khanna.

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