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Ranga’s death: Provisions under Wildlife Protection Act not invoked

After the death of tusker Ranga in an accident near Mathigodu elephant camp on Monday, there is now anger among wildlife activists as the authorities have booked a case invoking provisions under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the driver and the owner and not the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

The Ponnampet police, which is investigating the case, registered cases under section 279 of the IPC that deals with rash and negligent driving in public and section 429 of the IPC which deals with maiming or killing of animals and both are bailable offences.

However, it had not invoked various provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972) as per which death caused to a schedule I animal is a non-bailable offence and which prescribes stringent punishment.

When contacted, a police official argued that the accident took place on a highway and hence the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act cannot be invoked.

However, wildlife activists argued that a gaur had died under similar conditions a few months ago but the driver went scot free as he was booked for what was considered a “bailable offence” in legal parlance.

They said the Forest Department should press for invoking the provisions which deal with various offences under WLP Act 1972 to act as a deterrent against similar incidents in future.

“The provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act is applicable even if the animal is tamed and –as in case of Ranga – and only domestic animals are exempted from it,” according to an activist.

A senior Forest Department official said he would personally follow up the case and ensure that the stringent provisions are invoked.

Meanwhile, the authorities have decided to install CCTV cameras for surveillance of vehicles entering and exiting from checkposts on either side of the 12-km stretch which passes through the wildlife zone.

The Deputy Conservator of Forests T.Hanumanthappa said the CCTV cameras would be installed within the next 48 hours and would be monitored round the clock. Besides, the entry and exit timings of the vehicles would be noted to ensure that they were not exceeding the stipulated speed limits.

“We also plan to have a mobile patrolling unit in the next phase,” he added.

In addition, the engineering division of both Madikeri and Periyapatana taluks have been instructed to install speed breakers and rumble strips at a stretch of every 500 metres along the 12-km stretch abutting the Nagarahole and Anechowkur forests.

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