Friday, November 22, 2013

3 held for trading in protected species

From The Times Of IndiaTNN | Nov 22, 2013
KOLKATA: Smuggling of endangered species seems to be the latest trend along the Indo-Bangla border. Early on Wednesday, officers and troops of the Border Security Force (BSF)'s 40 Bn were surprised when two Bangladeshi nationals, they nabbed while sneaking across the border from India near Bongaon, were found to be carrying lizards in a bag.

The BSF suspects that the 10 reptiles seized are spiny tail lizards - an endangered species protected under Schedule II of Wildlife Protection Act - which have high demand in the international market. Officials believe that the animals could have fetched up to Rs 20 lakh each.

On Thursday evening, teams of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau(WCCB) and state forest department, arrested one person from the New Town area for keeping another scheduled reptile, golden gecko, in his possession. "We seized three geckos that were brought from the Sunderbans. The accused had earlier sold two geckos," said WCCB's Koushik Mondal.

"Around 5.55am on Wednesday, officers and troops of the border outpost Haridaspur, close to Petrapole in the Bongaon police station area, received information of two suspects approaching the international border. An ambush was laid and the two persons were nabbed. On being challenged, the two dropped their rucksacks and attempted to flee. They were caught though and identified as Md Roken (22) of the Tangrali village of Pakhsiabazar in Jessore and Md Sariful (20) of the same village," a BSF officer said.

A search of their bags revealed the lizards that were later handed over to officials of the West Bengal forest department.

The 40 Bn of the BSF, headed by Dinesh Murmu, had earlier seized a large number of star tortoises being smuggled into Bangladesh. The two accused have been handed over to the police.

BSF officials said that the civil police and state forest department needs to do more to get to the bottom of such rackets involved in the smuggling of endangered animals and animal parts. "Our mandate doesn't allow us to probe into such matters. In the past, after tortoises were seized, we asked the forest department to take steps and generate intelligence on such activities," one of them said.

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