India Post catches up with wildlife smugglers

Discovery of parts of endangered animals in parcels leads to alert across the country

Updated - August 05, 2017 09:37 am IST

Published - August 03, 2017 11:25 pm IST - Kolkata

Prime target:  Pangolin scales were smuggled to Southeast Asian countries using the services of India Post.

Prime target: Pangolin scales were smuggled to Southeast Asian countries using the services of India Post.

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) recently found that smugglers are using the postal service to sell parts of endangered animals. They stumbled upon feathers of the grey jungle fowl being smuggled out by the hundreds.

These feathers with eyespots are used as fishing lures and were being sent to certain European countries. Earlier this year, another case came to light: Pangolin scales were smuggled to Southeast Asian countries, using the services of India Post.

In an attempt to formulate a strategy to check such crimes in West Bengal and neighbouring states of Jharkhand and Odisha, an inter-agency co-ordination meeting was organised by the WCCB, Eastern Region in Kolkata on Thursday.

Representatives of more than a dozen investigating and law enforcement agencies, border security forces and forest departments of the different eastern states participated.

“It was decided to hold sensitisation workshops and train the postal department and other enforcement agencies and familiarise them with wildlife articles and modus operandi of criminal networks,” said Agni Mitra, Regional Deputy Director, Eastern Region, WCCB.

Tribal hunting a problem

Keeping strict vigil during traditions like the Shikar Utsav (hunting festival) of the tribal regions of south Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand was also reviewed.

A large number of deer, wild boar, jungle fowl and other animals, which fall under the Schedules of The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, are killed during this summer festival.

WCCB representatives and the Border Security Force took stock of their preparedness to check turtle smuggling for which West Bengal is a transit route. During last winter, over 15,000 turtles were seized from West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

“Wildlife smuggling is so huge that no one agency can tackle it. Inter-departmental coordination can help reduce such crime in Bengal, which is a transit route to Southeast Asia,” said Ajanta Dey, of Nature Environment and Wildlife Society.

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