Special Correspondent

Seized fishes handed over to Vandalur Zoo

Great demand for ‘Asian Arowana’ species

CHENNAI: Customs Officials at Anna Internatioanl airport on Thursday seized 500 ornamental fishes, packed in a suitcase. C. Rajan, Commissioner of Customs (Airport), said the officials on suspicion asked M. Basheer Mohammed of Madurai to show the contents of his suitcases. The passenger said he was carrying some food item. Not satisfied with the answer, the officials examined the suitcases and found the ornamental fishes packed in polythene bags.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the passenger was offered a free ticket to India besides Rs 5,000 in cash if he took two suitcases to Chennai, which would be picked up by someone and he agreed to the arrangement, said the Customs officials. Mr Rajan said the passenger had a plastic and thermocol padding inside both the suitcases for adequate protection to the bags containing fishes.

Apart from fishes, in one of the suitcases the authorities also found a small plastic pouch containing egg mass. The seized ornamental fishes were handed over to Vandalur Zoo authorities.

One of the zoo officers said the seized species included Clown Loach, Asian Arowana, Dwarf Gourami, Red Parrot, Banded Zebra and Tiger Barb. There is a great demand for Asian Arowana in India and the price is very high.

Most of the other fish species were commonly found in local markets with aquarists, said R. Srinivas, an expert on ornamental fishes.