Bangladeshi arrested for possessing musk deer sacs

Ananya Dutta

The Himalayan Musk Deer is highly prized and endangered

KOLKATA: A Bangladeshi national was arrested in West Bengal’s Maldah district on Thursday for possessing 20 sacs of the musk gland of the highly prized and threatened Himalayan Musk Deer.

In a joint raid by officials of the Border Security Force (BSF) and the West Bengal Forest Department, Asimuddin Mandal was arrested at the Mohaddipur checkpost, Maldah’s Divisional Forest Officer Ashok Pratap Singh told The Hindu over telephone.

“BSF officials received a tip-off about Mandal and asked us to be present when he would attempt to cross the border,” Mr. Singh added.

Mandal was produced at the court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate at Maldah on Friday and remanded to 90 days in judicial custody, Mr. Singh said.

“We haven’t been able to determine where he could have found the sacs from, but it is clear that he was attempting to smuggle them to Bangladesh,” he said.

The Himalayan Musk Deer (Moschus leucogaster), listed as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, is heavily poached for the musk gland present near the navel of the adult male deer. Musk is used in perfumes, cosmetics, and in certain traditional medicines in parts of Asia. According to the IUCN Red List website, a kilogram of the musk, a brown waxy substance produced in the musk gland, fetches nearly $45,000 in the international market.

Animals are killed

Although the musk can be extracted from live animals, most “musk-gatherers” kill the animals to remove the entire sac, which yields about 25 gm of musk. The 20 sacs seized from Mandal would thus yield about 500 gm of musk and be worth nearly $22,500 or around Rs.11 lakh.

The sacs have been sent to the office of the Zoological Survey of India at Kolkata.