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NRI, Ex-DSP's wife caught with wildlife trophy on Delhi Airport


If you are an NRI and possess old animal trophies decorating your plush homes in India, make sure you have secured their certificates from the state wildlife warden. Or you are in trouble, as was on Saturday the wife of a former Punjab DSP.

The Canada-based NRI Harpreet Kaur (name changed) was taken for a surprise by the customs at the Indira Gandhi International airport when her proud possession of a sambar head with its exquisite antlers, which she was carrying to Canada, was seized in a gruesome persecution, as she checked in the airport reportedly to take a flight to Vancouver

The customs officials immediately filed a case against her under Section 53 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and got the trophy examined by the northern Indian office of Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The CITES officials confirmed that the article was "a sambar head-mount with antlers" and said it was about 25 years old and that the WPA was in place at that time.

On Monday, a customs deputy commissioner fined Harpreet Kaur Rs 10,000 as penalty but also issued the required certificate while letting her go

The Central government's recent notification asking citizens to secure certificates from concerned state chief wildlife warden offices is still in vogue in Punjab, though the same for the NCT of Delhi, where it was clamped in October 2003, has expired. Customs officials confided, on condition of anonymity, that Kaur had committed mistakes by not only by flouting the WPA section, but also by not securing the Punjab chief wildlife warden's certificate on possession of the trophy.

According to wildlife preservation assistant director KN Singh, who also looks after the CITES issues, "Probably the lady was not even knowing that she had committed blunders on both counts. People having old trophies need to be careful about their possessions, or they might fall into troubled waters any day. In this case the lady might not even be knowing the consequences of the mistakes."

Sambar deers are not an endangered species. These are profusely spread all over Asian countries, including India. It is also one of the larger members of the deer family. Some males weigh upto 300 kgs and grow upto 150 cms at shoulders. A large sambar can feed a full-grown tiger for over four days. Sambars are covered by the scedule IV of the WPA 1972, as it's the essential fodder in the foodchain of big cats, and environmentally a very important determinant for ecological balance.

Vegetarian sambars are widely spread in all Indian forests and tiger reserves ^ such as Kanha, Corbett, Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh, Gir, Dudhwa, Manas, Kaziranga and Sariska.



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