BENGALURU: Forest department staff from two tiger reserves of Karnataka will undergo training to help curb illegal wildlife trade on the internet. Employees of Kali Tiger Reserve in Uttara Kannada and Nagarhole, which falls in Kodagu and Mysuru, will attend the training conducted by the World Wildlife Fund, India, in collaboration with Traffic (an NGO), Police Radio Training School (PRTS), Indore, and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
The training will include sessions on intelligence, investigation, search and seizure techniques, communication device investigation, social media investigation, cybercrime scene management, digital intelligence collection, wildlife forensics, and telecom surveillance. Principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) Punati Sridhar said, “The department personnel does not get any specific training to deal with cybercrime. Their cyber activity is limited to tracking previous locations of phones seized from poachers and traders.” In some cases, the department takes help from the cyber crime wing of the police, he said. Even when an online trade is detected, personnel do not have the tools or expertise to reach the traders, Sridhar said. He said in Karnataka, increasing trade in pangolin scales and star tortoises was a matter of concern.
HC Kantharaju, former director, Project Tiger, Nagarhole reserve, said, “During such training, success stories from other locations are discussed, which help officials to understand how they were handled.”
Wildlife activist Sanjay Gubbi said the capacity building of the forest staff is always a good idea. He said while seizures of products of wildlife trading were regularly made, several cases went undetected.
IFS officer Saket Badola, who heads TRAFFIC, said among the most trafficked animals in India are the red sand boa, turtles and tortoises, tokay gecko (a reptile species found in North East India), leopards and tigers for their skins and pangolin.