NEW DELHI -- Nearly 50,000 mongooses were killed to extract 1,000 kg of hair meant to make leading paintbrush brands, a nationwide raid has revealed.
The voluntary group Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) conducted the raids in Moradabad and Sherkote towns in Uttar Pradesh and then in Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.
Moradabad in western Uttar Pradesh is notorious as a center for killing mongoose. About 700 kg of raw hair and paintbrushes were recovered from here last week. Two people have been arrested.
Delhi was the transit point for mongoose hair and also served as a major manufacturing center of paintbrushes from where they were exported to other countries.
Ashok Kumar, head of the legal and enforcement department of the trust, said: "Brushes made of mongoose hair are considered better than those made of hog hair, pig hair or nylon.
"All major paintbrush brands were using it and exporting the product abroad.
Only license holders are permitted to kill mongoose, a nine to 26 inches long, gray or brown-colored animal.
"It is in complete violation of law. You can find these brushes in all the shops. People don't know about it, and our environment-friendly artistes and children use it. So many mongooses are killed to make just one brush."
Each animal yields about 10 grams of hair.
"Hundreds and thousands of mongooses are killed every day all over the country. People never pay attention because it is a small animal and is found in plenty. It has been killed traditionally," said Kumar.
The animal is trapped and then beaten to death. The hair is plucked by hand.
Mongooses live about seven to 12 years in the wild, but in captivity they may live more than 20 years.
The trust has demanded better legal protection for the mongoose and regular raids. Otherwise the animal, which is found in abundance and helps farmers in their fields and storages, would fade away, warned the group.
"We need to create awareness and convince children and artists not to use brushes made of mongoose hair," said Kumar.
Mongooses are known to attack even the largest and most poisonous of snakes. They has been introduced in many parts the world to control the population of rodents and snakes.
Copyright © 2002 IANS India Private Limited.