Chamba: Musk pods, wild boar’s tusks sezied; six held : The Tribune India

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Chamba: Musk pods, wild boar’s tusks sezied; six held

4 Rajasthan residents arrested in Chamba town, 2 from Maharashtra nabbed at Khajjiar check-post

Chamba: Musk pods, wild boar’s tusks sezied; six held

Musk pods of Himalayan musk deer seized by the Forest Dept.

Naresh Thakur

Chamba, May 14

The forest authorities in Chamba have arrested six persons, hailing from Maharashtra and Rajasthan, with body parts of endangered animals. Initially, the Forest Department had arrested two persons — Mahinder Singh, a resident of Pune, and Sonu Singh from Mumbai.

Wildlife ring busted

  • Six persons hailing from Rajasthan and Maharashtra arrested in Chamba
  • Photos of wildlife parts, including meat, found on mobile phones of two of the arrested
  • Hunting of musk deer and monitor lizard prohibited under the Wildlife Protection Act
  • Himalayan musk deer is listed as an endangered species on IUCN Red List
  • In Chamba, the shy animal is found in Kugti and Sechu Tuan wildlife sanctuaries

Seizures made

Parts of rare and protected wildlife, including hemipenes of monitor lizards and 17 horns of jackal, were seized. — Kritagya Kumar, Divisional Forest Officer

Hemipenes of monitor lizard seized from two persons.

They used to sell the body parts of wild animals at exorbitant prices to tourists and locals in Chamba’s Khajjiar tourist resort — known as Mini Switzerland — citing their use in sorcery.

Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Kritagya Kumar said among the confiscated items were parts of rare and protected wildlife, including musk pods of Himalayan musk deer, hemipenes of four monitor lizards — also known as ‘hatha Jodi’ — and tusks of a wild boar, among other.

He said the duo was into the business of selling herbs for quite some time in Khajjiar. After the forest authorities received information about them selling wildlife parts to people, their activities came under close watch. They were caught red-handed during a routine checking at the Khajjiar check-post. During the interrogation of the duo, the forest officials got a lead about involvement of more people in the illegal activity.

On Monday, four more people hailing from Rajasthan were arrested from Balu locality of Chamba town and 10 hemipenes of monitor lizard and 17 horns of ‘gidarsinghi’ or jackal, were recovered from their procession, he said.

The DFO said a thorough investigation was underway to ascertain whether the duo obtained the wildlife remains by hunting in the forests of Chamba or they brought these from another state for selling here.

Photos of wildlife parts, including meat, were found on mobile phones of the arrested persons, he added.

The hunting of musk deer and monitor lizard is prohibited in India under the Wildlife Protection Act. The Himalayan musk deer (Moschus leucogaster) is found in the Himalayan region of Nepal, Bhutan, India, besides in Pakistan and China.

It is listed as an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List because overexploitation is resulting into a serious population decline.

DFO Kumar suspects that there may be an organised gang involved in smuggling of animal parts, but definitive conclusions will only be drawn once the investigation is complete.

In March, the Forest Department had busted an inter-state racket involved in the smuggling of maple tree knots with links in Nepal and Tibet. Of the 15 arrested, 14 were of Nepalese origin. A huge quantity of maple knots and bowls crafted from them were recovered.

In April, another racket of birch tree bark smuggling was exposed, which allegedly also transcended international boundaries, reaching into China and Tibet.

#Chamba #Maharashtra #Mumbai #Rajasthan

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