Karnataka’s Forest Minister, Eshwar Khandre, has made a passionate plea to individuals who possess wildlife articles to voluntarily surrender them to the government within a two-month timeframe. This urgent call comes in the aftermath of the recent arrest of Varthur Santhosh, a contestant on the popular reality show, Big Boss, for violating the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
In Belagavi as well Forest Department officials searched the residence of Woman and Child Welfare Minister Laxmi Hebbalkar on Friday, for the tiger claw pendant that her son had reportedly worn. Hebbalkar told reporters that the tiger claw-like pendant worn by Mrinal was made of plastic and had been gifted by someone during his wedding.
Minister Khandre emphasized that prior to this incident, there was a lack of public awareness regarding the legislation. However, the arrest of Santhosh has brought this issue to the forefront, prompting the government to provide a two-month grace period for individuals to surrender their wildlife articles. Once this period expires, the government will issue a circular outlining the necessary actions to be taken.
Furthermore, Minister Khandre highlighted the evolution of the Wildlife (Protection) Act over the years. While in 1972, individuals were given the opportunity to declare and retain such articles, subsequent amendments in 2003 and 2022 have significantly tightened regulations. The 2022 amendment specifically states that possessing, wearing, using, and collecting articles belonging to wild animals are now considered punishable offenses.