Kamakhya temple.

Sleuths of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) have seized a huge cache of wild animal body parts besides marine animal products in a raid at Kamakhya temple premises in Guwahati.

The haul, believed to be one of the biggest in years, included marine animal products besides musk pods, porcupine spikes and other animal body parts.

The seizures were made during a joint operation launched by the WCCB Guwahati and Guwahati Forest Range office on Wednesday.

Three persons have been arrested in this connection.

Interestingly, this is the first time that marine products have been seized in the Northeast – a region far away from coasts of the country, said a WCCB official.

The first raid conducted at Ganeshguri Lakhi Mandir seized 600 pieces of sea fans (enlisted in Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972).

A man identified as Rahul Choudhary, was arrested and based on his confession, another raid was conducted at two places of a market area of Kamakhya Temple, the official said.

He said 29 kg of sea fans were seized from the possession of Jitendra Saha at Kamakhya temple.

Other seizures there included 5 kg sea fan from Santosh Gupta, 14 pieces of suspected musk pod, 1.5 kg porcupine spikes, 43 pieces of Hathjora, and several unidentified animal body parts.

Sea fans look a lot like plants with colourful, forked ‘branches’ but they are actually animals, just like their relatives, the corals and jellies.

Sea fans are colonial animals made up of many tiny, individual animals that work together as one.

“This is the biggest marine products seizure in the country till date and we believe a big gang of smugglers is at work. Investigation is on and we hope to shed more light on the nefarious activities,” the official added.

He said that it was extremely surprising how the sale of banned products could go on under the eyes of the administration and the police at Kamakhya Temple.

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