15 held for selling fake wildlife skin, bones in Bhavnagar
Times of India
Bhavnagar district forest department on Sunday arrested around 15 men and women — mostly married couples — from the outskirts of Bhavnagar for selling fake lion and tiger skin and bones. All accused are from Karnataka.
According to range forest officer (RFO) Bhavnagar KK Bharwad, the department was tipped off by volunteers of a Bhavnagar-based nature club. The accused were selling the skin and bones to common people. "The accused sold these skins by going from house to house. They happened to sell an item to a member of nature's club, who alerted the forest department. Following this, we organised a trap and arrested them from their makeshift houses," Bharwad said.
"We have arrested 15 people, including eight women. All those arrested are from Karnataka. They arrived in Bhavnagar just two days ago. The forest department has seized all the materials that the group was selling. They used their network to reach residents and sold the skins and nails of tigers and lions," he added.
The skin and bones were sent to the department for a thorough examination, where it was verified that none of them were original. The accused purchased skins of dogs and goats from around the place where they lived. The skins were then painted and tampered with chemicals and made to look like those of tigers and lions.
"We have confirmed that all the material seized is duplicate," Bharwad said.
According to officials, it was the women's job to get clients and sell them while the males were the ones who reworked the skins. Taking note of lion poaching incidents earlier in the state, state forest department officials did not want to take chance and arrested all the people involved.
(Left) The accused in the custody of forest officials; some of the confiscated items