November 3, 2017
The illegal trade of paintbrushes made of mongoose hair is thriving in Coimbatore, thanks to the demand in the local market.
Mongoose known to be ferocious snake fighter is protected under Schedule I (Part II) of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which prohibits trade of all animals listed in it.
But trade of paintbrushes made from mongoose hair goes unabated in the city. Many of the stationary shops on Nanjappa road and in other pockets are into selling these fine mongoose hair brushes which have a great demand, especially from artists because of their soft texture that can help produce excellence and perfection of their work on canvas.
According to TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, at least 50 mongooses have to be killed for a kilogram of hair. Each mongoose gives about 40 grams of hair, but upon sorting only 20 grams are usable for making paint brushes.
“A major combing operation was undertaken jointly with the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) in the city some six months ago to curb the sale of paintbrushes made from mongoose hair. One month ago, a seller on Nanjappa Road was arrested and remanded for the same offence and some 20 such brushes were seized,” Coimbatore District Forest Officer N Satheesh told The Covai Post.
He said the hair is usually sent to Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology Lab in Hyderabad or Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun for test as there is no facility here. “These paint brushes are sold by local brands and sometimes without any name. Many a time, the shopkeepers and traders themselves would fall into the trap of manufacturers and dealers and procure them.”
Ordinary buyers too have little knowledge about this cruel and illegal practice. Since possession of these brushes is in itself a non-bailable offence that attracts 3 years of imprisonment, the district forest department is creating awareness among the traders. “We have issued pamphlets and notices stating the guidelines on the identification processes of mongoose hair paint brush to the shopkeepers through the local traders’ association,” the DFO says, informing that the manufacturing is done outside Tamil Nadu and the WCCB has almost traced the origin point and is on the job of snapping the supply chain.
He further said that the forest department would take action to prevent the sale of mongoose hair paint brushes in the local market.