Friday, December 17, 2010

A lion claw made out of buffalo horns, dog skin!

A lion claw made out of buffalo horns, dog skin!
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

Make fake claws using body parts of dogs, goats, mongoose, cows and buffaloes and pass them off as original claws of the king of the jungle! This was the modus operandi of 25 tribals arrested by forest department on charges of poaching and cheating.

The gang of 25 tribals from south India was arrested on Tuesday morning with fake claws by the forest department, acting on a tip off from volunteers of Prakruti nature club.

This is the second incident in recent times where fake claws are recovered from tribals who gain entry from nearby areas in the sanctuary as casual labourers. Earlier, on January 9, the Amreli police had used a decoy and arrested two people in connection with selling fake lion claws. Two fake lion claws with nine nails were recovered. The couple had demanded Rs 1.5 lakh from the decoy for the two claws.

Officials said that a case of cheating will be registered against the gang as they were found cheating people by selling fake claws. Sources in Sasan said that the math is simple: a single fake lion paw made from a buffalo horn would cost just about Rs 2,500 - Rs 3,000. But if a paw is shown to the prospective buyer, a single nail would cost anything between Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000 per nail.

And if any one wanted the claw with all five nails, it would be anything between Rs 50,000 and Rs 75,000. This prompted the cheats to go to great lengths to craft together a paw with claws using hair, skin and bones of different animals.

Officials said lion's claws are sold like gemstones in parts of Saurashtra. These claws are worn for virility and as a status symbol. Fishermen venturing out to sea wear it to make them 'lion-hearted'. The fishermen and members of a particular community are known to encase these claws in gold and wear them as pendants.

Sources said that the manufacturing of the paw with nails was complex. First a nail like structure was prepared from the horns of the buffalo and then it was fitted into the paw using the skin of dog or mongoose. The paw was filled with dried flesh of a dog. Hairs from the mongoose and goats' tail were used to give it an authentic look.

Officials said that to a trained eye, the claws were obviously fake. The final report, however, will be submitted by the Forensic Science Laboratory. Ramesh Katara, the deputy conservator of forest, said that prima facie the seized paw appeared artificial and definitely not that of a lion's.

Katara further said that the 25 tribal people arrested from Kodinar town of Junagadh district hail from Shimoga in Karnataka. The arrested people include 10 men, 10 women and five children. "During interrogation, we found that these people have made it their business to sale fake body parts of lions and other endangered animals," Katara said.

Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) R Asari said, "These are fake claws. The gang has even used adhesives and oil colours to make them look real. The gang has used domestic cattle along with skin of dog and goat. But we are not taking any chances. The FSL team has arrived to check the veracity of the seized material."

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