The Odisha forest department officials have arrested a 31-year-old YouTuber in Karanjula village of Sambalpur district for illegally possessing six snakes, including cobras and four chameleons, an official said on Wednesday.
The accused was identified as Ramchandra Rana from the Redakhole area of the western Odisha district. He used to make videos with the snakes, chameleons and other reptiles and wild animals to attract viewers. He has more than one lakh subscribers on his YouTube channel-- Ramchandra rana.
Speaking to the mediapersons, Rana has confessed to his crime and said he caught these species from different places during this rainy season. Rana claimed that he used to release such species after making a few videos for his YouTube channel. However, he denied his involvement in the wild animal trade racket.
After getting information, the forest officials rescued the snakes and chameleons and arrested the youth.
"We have apprehended the youth, who has a YouTube channel with over 1 lakh subscribers. When we asked, he took us to his house, where we rescued six snakes including three cobras and four chameleons," said Manu Ashok Bhat, assistant conservator of forest (ACF), Sadar Range, Jujumara.
As both the animals have been categorized as Schedule-II under Wildlife Protection Act 1972, it is illegal to keep them in house or hunt them, he said, adding that further investigation was on to know whether the youth was involved in wildlife trade racket or not.
The channel violates the IT Act 2000. So, the forest department officials asked YouTube for deletion and appropriate action at their end, sources said.