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Rare exotic animals smuggling racket busted in Bengaluru

Photo for representation

Three passengers, including a woman, were caught at the Bengaluru airport as they were trying to smuggle rare foreign species of animals, including Anaconda snakes into the country, according to official information released today.

The three arrived on a flight from Bangkok on Jan 22 and were intercepted by a team of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officers who had prior intelligence about the racket.

Examination of their checked-in baggage resulted in the recovery of 18 non-indigenous animals (4 primates and 14 reptiles). The DRI team was assisted by Karnataka Forest Department officials in making the recovery.

The recovered animals include extremely rare and threatened species like the Yellow and Green Anaconda, Yellow Headed Amazon Parrot, Nile Monitor, Red Foot Tortoise, Iguanas, Ball Pythons, Alligator Gar, Yaki Monkey, Veiled Chameleon, Racoon Dog, White Headed Piones etc. were handed over to Bannerghatta Biological Park.

There were 10 animals which are also included in Appendix II of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)The import of wild animals is prohibited under the Wildlife Act and those species which are listed in CITES are subject to the provisions of CITES. The animals attempted to be smuggled by these passengers were seized under the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962.

The quick follow-up action with the assistance of Karnataka Forest Department officials and an officer deputed from WCCB Chennai, resulted in the recovery of another 139 animals belonging to 48 different species, including 34 CITES listed species from a farmhouse in Bengaluru used as a place of storage of similarly smuggled wildlife. Neither any documents evidencing the legal import of the wildlife items nor any filings under Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (Wildlife Division) or Voluntary Disclosure Scheme were available.

However, evidence of financial transactions to source non-indigenous wildlife through the route of smuggling, buy–sell transactions on WhatsApp and other social media platforms have been unearthed.

Four persons involved in the smuggling into India have also been placed under arrest, so far. Further investigations in the matter are on, the official statement added.