Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gir poaching case, milestone for forensics

Gir poaching case, milestone for forensics
Times of India

According to DFS officials, the Gir lion poaching case was a milestone for wildlife forensics. MS Dahiya, deputy director of DFS, told TOI that it was a challenge for forensic officials, as it was a big case and variety of expertise was needed.

"We camped in Gir forest and nearby areas where lionpoaching had been reported and meticulously collected samples. Everything from broken leaves to match sticks proved useful. However, bidis and matchboxes found from Gir and Una proved crucial evidences as these pointed towards gangs from Madhya Pradesh," said Dahiya.

He added that police officials then found tribes staying near Una. They were detained on the basis of suspicion. "We took extracts from their fingernails and also went through their belongings. The samples found from them were sent for DNA analysis that confirmed that they indeed were involved in poaching.

"It was a breakthrough for the investigating agencies as they came to know that poachers actually camp within the forest area, kill the lions, skin them and then contact buyers. It was also established that they move in large groups which including women to avoid suspicion. We found that they actually liked lion's blood's smell. We found a number of bloodstained clothes. They had not washed the clothes. This worked as a clinching evidence," he said.

The case's success propelled DFS to establish wildlife crimes investigation department. The department today caters to more than 50 cases annually ranging from electrocution of black bucks to death of parakeets in Uttar Pradesh to DNA analysis of ivory found from south. The department is equipped with tools to analyse any blood sample and animal DNA, said senior DFS officials.

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