two Czech nationals, arrested on June 23 for allegedly collecting insects without proper permission from the Singalila National Park in Darjeeling, moved bail petitions for a second time in a Darjeeling court on July 21. But the appeal could not be heard due to lawyers' strike in the region. Their first bail appeal was rejected.
Wildlife officials had seized beetles, butterflies and moths, some rare species from Petr Svacha and Emil Kucera, the Czech nationals. The forest department of West Bengal said they had been caught with Schedule 1 insects, which is in violation of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. "We know of Kucera's website selling insects and have an e-mail from a Czech environment department official stating Kucera does not work in any government department there," said Utpal Kumar Nag, additional divisional forest officer. The offence is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Some scientists in India are, however, convinced that Svacha and Kucera were collecting samples for research. They say the forest department makes getting permits for research difficult. "It can take years before a bona fide researcher gets a permit," said Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan, researcher with the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment, Bangalore.