Two pangolin smugglers were arrested by Golakganj police in Assam’s Dhubri district on Saturday.
The police also rescued a pangolin, purchased from Meghalaya at Rs 1.20 lakh, from the possession of the smugglers.
The police later handed over the animal along with the arrested smugglers to the forest officials of Dhubri district.
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The accused have been identified as Jiaul Haque and Moinal Haque, both hail from South Salmara-Mankachar.
While talking to Northeast Now over the phone, Hrish Ch. Nath, forest range officer, Dhubri, said, “The Golakganj police on a tip-off launched an operation and arrested two persons last night. They also rescued a pangolin from their possession.”
ALso read: Pangolin poaching for scales rampant in Assam
“The arrested have been identified as Jiaul Haque and Moinal Haque from South Salmara-Mankachar,” added Nath.
Informing that the pangolin was purchased by the duo from Meghalaya, forest official Nath said, “The accused have revealed that they had purchased the pangolin 15 days back from Meghalaya.”
Regarding their plan to sell the animal in West Bengal, Nath said, “During questioning, the duo has revealed that they kept the pangolin here and there in the last 15 days. They were planning to sell the animal in West Bengal.”
The forest official also said, “They told us that they had purchased the animal at Rs 1.20 lakh and would have sold it at higher price in the neighbouring state.”
Claiming that the duo has experience of pangolin smuggling in the past, Nath said on being informed by the police, they reached the Golakganj police station on Saturday afternoon and the police handed over them the accused along with the pangolin.
The accused and the pangolin will be produced before the court of the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) at Dhubri and seek the custody of the accused for interrogation.
“The rescued pangolin will be sent to the rehabilitation centre at Soraikhola in Kokrajhar,” he added.
The pangolin has received injuries during the 15-day captivity as it was tied with a rope, the forest official shared.
“The animal has been given preliminary treatment by our department veterinarian,” said Nath.
Nath said earlier, they rescued 4 pangolins in the district where the public handed over the animals after being rescued.
“This is the first case where a pangolin has been rescued in the district from the possession of smugglers,” revealed nath.
Smuggling of pangolins and their scales from the northeastern part of India to countries like Myanmar, China, Vietnam and others has been on the rise despite the fact that the police and forest officials nab smugglers of the animal.
Pangolins fall prey to the poachers and smugglers for its costly scales which are sold for up to USD 1,500 per kilogram in the illegal market.
The scales of pangolins are commonly used as traditional medicine, lucky charms and ornaments.
Forest official Nath also said, “The accused have revealed that the pangolin scales are used as medicine.”
This species of animal, which is rapidly on the decline, is also sold for its meat, which is considered a delicacy, especially in China and Vietnam.
There are eight species of pangolins and all the species are under threat.
The 11th Conference of the Parties of CITES in 2000 voted a zero-export quota for wild-caught Asian pangolins.
In 2017, due to massive increase in their presence in the illegal trade, all species of the pangolin were uplisted from the CITES Appendix II to I, banning it in the commercial international trade.
According to reports, despite ban, nearly 6,000 pangolins were poached in India in between 2009 and 2017.
According to a 2018 report by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, Manipur in the Northeast and Tamil Nadu are emerging as hotspots for pangolin smuggling.