SRINAGAR: Beware! Next time you post a selfie with a wild animal on social media, you may land in jail.
Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Protection Department has decided to prosecute people who click pictures with wild animals and post them on social media. The department has decided to invoke Wildlife Protection Act to deal with the violators.
“We are looking into the cybercrime aspect also. We often find people posting photographs with wild animals. We need to combat such offences. We need to take cognizance,” Dr. MK Kumar, Regional Wildlife Warden, Jammu, told The Kashmir Monitor.
The department has devised a fool-proof mechanism to track down the people who violate the norms. “Once pictures surface on social media, we refer it to the concerned wildlife warden. Based on the URL location and photo identity, he tracks down the particular individual. They first take the cognizance and start the investigation,” Dr. Kumar said.
Wildlife department has also decided to involve the police in tracking down the offenders. “We also file the complaint if the offence is criminal in nature. Rest, the wildlife warden is competent enough to take cognizance and start an inquiry. The investigation will determine whether the offence has been committed inside or outside protected areas. And whether the animal falls in Schedule I or Schedule II category,” said Dr. Kumar.
Wildlife department has also reteriat4ed that entry into protected areas without permission will be treated as offence and dealt with accordingly.
“Entering into protected areas without the express permission of competent authority is not allowed. If somebody is having a picture with a wild animal that itself is an offense. We can take cognizance. Innocence needs to be proven by the individual who has posted a picture,” he said.
Jammu and Kashmir government has notified 4861.28 sq km as Protected Area Network. It comprises 4 National Parks, 14 Wildlife Sanctuaries, and 30 Conservation / Wetland Reserves. Various management activities undertaken in these areas include habitat improvement, plantation, soil and water conservation, protection from fire, anti-poaching activities, development of infrastructure for front-line staff, providing supplemental feed to rescued and captive wild animals, etc.
Dr. Kumar said they have taken cognizance of some of the cases in the past. “Because there is liking among people to post pictures on Facebook and other social media platforms. We have taken cognizance in two to three cases in the past,” he said.