Kolkata: In possibly the largest seizure of mongoose hair brushes in India till date, 32,985 paint brushes made out of the hair of the animal, protected under the wildlife protection act, were seized from the Burrabazar area on Monday night. The brushes, sources said, were worth between Rs 35 lakh and Rs 65 lakh.
The raid was carried out jointly by the state forest department and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB). A forest department official said that four persons have already been arrested in this connection.
“The raid was carried out in the Old China Bazar area, a wholesale market, based on a specific tip-off. We had identified four shops in the market and arrested four persons — Monoj Gaur, Ranjit Kumar, Bakul Halder and Ganga Kharwar. We are quizzing them to nab more culprits involved in the racket,” said a WCCB officer.
Between 2013 and 2015, WCCB and the forest department had identified some areas in Banganagar near Palta where these brushes used to be made. “We made several seizures in these areas. Now, stocks from these areas have almost stopped arriving to the city markets. The current stocks were probably procured from outside the state. We are grilling the accused to find out from where did they procure the fresh stocks seized on Monday,” said a source.
Earlier, in October 2013, more than 20,000 mongoose hair brushes were seized and eight persons arrested from the Banganagar area.
A forest official said hair of mostly Indian grey mongoose, protected under Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, is used in making these brushes. Hair of other mongooses, like ruddy mongoose, small Indian mongoose and stripe-necked mongoose — all protected under Schedule IV of the same act — is also used in this illegal wildlife trade.
Mongoose is largely threatened by the unabated illegal trade of its hair that is used to make paint brushes. Reports say for a kilogramme of mongoose hair, at least 50 animals have to be poached. “Each mongoose yields about 40gm hair but when the hair is sorted, only 20gm is found usable. Most of the hunting is done by regular poachers, who are hired to noose and kill these animals,” say reports.
Mongoose hair is also smuggled to the Middle East, USA, and European countries.