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Probe into hide trafficking

THE SEIZURE: Leopard skin.

THE SEIZURE: Leopard skin.  

Staff Reporter

RAMANATHAPURAM: : Customs officials on Thursday arrested a person, who trafficked in skins of endangered animals, particularly those of leopard.

C. Dhanasekaran, Additional Commissioner, said a team of narcotic cell of Customs spotted Palpandi (22) with a parcel on the shore of Kambipadi near Dhanushkodi. On interrogation, he said two persons, who came by an illegal boat from Sri Lanka, handed over the skin to him.

The hide was that of a well-grown animal, which might have been killed 20 days ago. It had three bullet holes. Hair and insolvent test showed that the skin was original. It was 4.7 feet high, excluding the three-foot tail, and four feet wide.

Mr. Dhanasekaran said preliminary investigation showed that Anton of Pesalai and Aziz had acted as kingpins of the trafficking. They had come to the Ramanathapuram coast in an illegal boat for smuggling frequently.

Information was sent to the Chief Conservator of Forests and Wildlife Warden, Tamil Nadu, about the seizure.

He did not rule out a link with the countrywide tiger and leopard skin smuggling network. "Without a major network, one will not poach animals and send the skins to agents of other countries. We have begun an inquiry covering touts and agents of traffickers, arrested earlier. This will help us to identify those involved in the network."

He said that various wings of Customs had been asked to pay attention to animal skin trafficking besides monitoring smuggling of sea cucumber, sea lizard and other endangered marine animals from the coasts of Ramanathapuram, Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts.

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