Bhopal, May 25: Three poachers were arrested in Gwalior for killing endangered pangolins whose meat and scales are smuggled to illegal markets in China, Vietnam, Thailand among others where the parts are used to create potions believed to have aphrodisiac properties.
Based on intelligence gathered by the Wildlife SOS Anti-Poaching Unit, a joint operation was launched in collaboration with the DFO of Gwalior, the CCF Gwalior – Madhya Pradesh Forest Department and the state police in coordination with Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and Wildlife SOS.
The operation that lasted several hours resulted in the interception of three poachers on a motorcycle late last evening, a statement by Wildlife SOS said. On searching the poachers, a bag containing over three kilograms of scales of the endangered Indian pangolin was found which was immediately seized by enforcement authorities.
On questioning, the poachers confessed that they had killed the pangolins and removed their scales and body parts and were transporting them to sell to wildlife traffickers, the statement said. The poachers were arrested by the Forest Department for killing wildlife and for illegal possession of body parts of an endangered wildlife species under relevant sections of Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
The poachers said they were a part of a larger wildlife trafficking network that operated within the state and until Uttar Pradesh and were in touch with others involved in the illicit wildlife trade in other states and Indo-Nepal border, it said.
India is home to two species of pangolins, the Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla). Both species are protected under Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN.
Pangolin is one of the most traded species in the world and India is a major source of pangolin meat and scales across illegal markets in China, Vietnam, Thailand among others. Local trade of pangolin meat and scales are reported from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Assam, Nagaland and West Bengal.