Wild Animals Smuggling Racket Busted Near Science City

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Kolkata: A pair each of hoolock gibbons and palm civets and 42 exotic birds of different species were seized on Thursday from a car that was to deliver the menagerie to a buyer at a location near Science City.

A team from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence had been waiting along the Basanti Highway to intercept the Swift Dzire, which they knew was coming from Basirhat.

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The car had started from Basirhat at 7.30am and was racing down the highway when it was stopped near Bhojerhat. The animals, smuggled into India from across the Bangladesh border, were found in the boot of the car.

The birds, including 15 rosellas that are native to Australia and New Zealand, were cooped up in small cages.

The sleuths identified and intercepted the car near Bhojerhat area on Basanti Highway with two occupants. “Two persons have been arrested in this case and further investigation is going on,” read an official statement issued by DRI.

The palm civet is an omnivorous species that feeds on fruit, coffee beans, insects and small mammals. According to an officer of the forest department, hoolock gibbons and civets are illegally kept as pets and also used in circuses.

The rescued birds included a pair of Nandy parakeets, two peach-fronted conures, 17 grass parakeets and four maroon-tailed conures.

Three cages that were seized contained birds and animals in a cramped condition. One cage with two partitions contained two Hollock Gibbons on one side and two Palm Civets on the other side.

A second cage containing 15 colourful Rosella Birds (exotic in nature) and a third cage containing 27 exotic birds like two Nandin Conures, two Peach Fronted Conures, 17 Grass Parakeets, four Maroon Tailed Conures were recovered.

The DRI got in touch with the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and handed over the recovered birds and animals. Sections 48 and 49 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, prohibits trade or commerce in wild animals or animal articles or trophies.

Further, illegal import of wildlife which is in violation of the Wildlife Protection Act automatically becomes a violation of the Customs Act by virtue of Section 111(d) of the Customs Act.

All the wildlife species of foreign origin have consequently been seized under the provisions of Customs Act read with Wildlife Protection Act. Such offences are punishable under Section 135 of the Customs Act as also under Section 51 of the WPA and the accused could be imprisoned up to seven years. Last week, DRI seized 24 pieces of ivory weighing 5.838 kg from Guwahati. In March this year, DRI seized 214 Indian star tortoises in Kolkata.

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