A paintbrush made of mongoose hair is a highly valuable commodity for the artistic community. However, to harvest 1kg of hair, almost 50 of them have to be killed. Currently, each year, approximately 100000 of them are killed for this material. The phenomenon is most noticeable in India.
To this effect, law enforcement personnel had performed raids in six states of India. An operation called Clean Art had resulted in the raids. The personnel had discovered 54,352 illegal mongoose hair paintbrushes as well as 113 kg of unprocessed hair. 43 people were placed in police custody. The major centers are the states of Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, and Uttar Pradesh.
In the previous 20 years, this marked operation number 28 performed by the Bureau to Control Wildlife Crime. This illegal trade of hair harvested from mongooses is a flourishing and expensive industry. The brushes made from mongooses are sought after by artists who want to add some finesse to their art. However, it has ended up endangering the species.
Recent Conservation Efforts Targeting The Mongoose
Personnel associated with the operation explained that one mongoose is good enough for only 20 grams of hair. However, even with the official’s best efforts, the industry is far from slowing down. Primarily due to the awareness of this danger befalling mongooses being extremely low. Furthermore, the demand remains high.
Mongooses are among many animals that are overlooked. Other exotic and flagship species are usually the center of attention. These include, for India, the Asiatic elephant, the tiger, and the rhinoceros. However, in the past few years, officials have made a decision to look past the spotlight. As such, cruel trades involving mongooses, pangolins, and lizards have been exposed.
The official continued that tracking efforts have been ongoing since the very first years of the 21st century. However, only now are active steps being taken. As such, it is believed that the business has taken a heavy loss over the constant raids and pressure.
Mongooses have multiple habitats spread across India. Traditional communities focusing on hunting often hunt them as well. These communities are the largest supplier of the hair of mongooses.
The Demand For Mongoose Still Lives On
Experts on wildlife crime have no doubt that the mongoose population is being severely impacted by this illegal trade. However, no one really keeps a tally for a traditionally common animal, so there is no way of knowing for sure. However, they continue, that should this ignorance continue, we will lose them before we realize it.
The material is extremely costly and goes for as much as Rs. 100000 for 1kg of pure hair from mongooses. Furthermore, the supply is not local to only India.
Currently, environmentalists groups have requested online commerce websites to remove items containing furs of mongooses. They have even condemned Amazon, the e-commerce website, for supplying such illegal materials. India’s Wildlife Trust has produced and released a documentary highlighting the ugly industry.
However, the commodity remains commonly available in India. Any major shop in a big Indian city will have a large stock of paintbrushes. The art industry, though, is slowly becoming aware of the problem and taking a step away from this type of paintbrushes.
For artists, the brush is essential for good continuous strokes, especially in watercolor. They are also known for their durability. However, new artists have looked at creating art without any canvas or paints, and also no brushes. For traditional centers, like Shantiniketan near Kolkata, the case is different. A local admitted that the problem persists because the artists have no concern outside of the quality of their art.
Mongooses named in part 2 of schedule 2 of India’s 1972 Act For Wildlife (Protection). The illegal trade and hunting can have seven years of imprisonment. As such, the larger art companies no longer use or associate with products involving the animals. The officials are also spreading awareness among everyone involved. For the older communities, the weaning process is underway.