Odisha: Forest Dept Secures One Day Remand Of Pangolin Smugglers

Athgarh: The Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) Court here today allowed the local Divisional Forest Officer (DFO)  to take the ten accused persons arrested in connection with pangolin smuggling on one-day remand for further interrogation.

Athgarh DFO Sasmita Lenka had sought to take the ten accused persons on a seven-day remand.

Sources in the Forest department revealed that the accused persons will be grilled by a team of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) for possible international link if any.

A team of the WCCB, which functions under Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has arrived here on Thursday to investigate whether smuggling of pangolins from Odisha have any international link.

The team which has come from the WCCB regional office at Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh includes an intelligence officer.

Chief Wildlife Warden of Odisha Hari Shankar Upadhyay had recently said that several cases of pangolin smuggling have been detected in the State.

Forest officials detected an online trade link of the pangolin smuggling racket following the busting of a racket on November 27.

According to Lenka, the accused involved in the inter-state syndicate that deals with smuggling of wild animals was in contact with dealers and customers online.

They had formed WhatsApp groups and were also using some websites to send videos to their customers with codes and dealer names as part of the online deals, she had informed.

As part of modus operandi, they tagged name of the dealer and a currency note as a code to indicate the weight of the animal before making the video.

If the customer was satisfied with the sample, they sent it to the middlemen, operating clandestinely from different parts of the state, especially Dhenkanal and Mayurbhanj, who then transported it to the person concerned outside Odisha or abroad.

This was revealed after the forest officials seized the cell phones of the arrested persons.

Pangolins, the most trafficked animals in the world, are also critically endangered in the wild. The DFO said their smuggling violates Sections-9, 39 and 49 (B) of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and a punishable offense under Section-51 of the Act.



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