A snake charmer was arrested from this Punjab town for selling endangered black cobras and bird species. He would sell the venom to representatives of pharmaceutical companies in several states, police said on Sunday.
Ramesh Nath Feroze, a resident of a slum rehabilitation area in Morinda town of Ropar district, about 40 km from Chandigarh, was held late on Saturday during a joint operation of Ropar police and representatives of People For Animals (PFA).
Endangered species of 15 black cobras and a pair of birds were recovered from his possession.
"After receiving a complaint from PFA officials, we laid a trap and arrested Feroze. We have recovered endangered species of black cobras and birds. He is a snake-charmer. We also found five snakes in his possession," a police officer said.
"He admitted that he was selling venoms and snakes in different parts of the country. There is a possibility of involvement of more people in this illegal trade."
Feroze was booked under various sections of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Feroze also used to sell venoms of cobras to representatives of various pharmaceutical companies in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, the police officer said. A machine, which is used to extract venom, has been recovered from Feroze's house.
"An employee of a Noida-based pharmaceutical company was arrested few weeks back in New Delhi. During questioning he disclosed that he was getting venom from Feroze. Following this, we approached the Punjab Police to unearth this illegal trade," PFA (Chandigarh unit) representative Chetan Sharma told reporters.
PFA officials approached Feroze posing as decoy customers and expressed their desire to buy black cobras. The deal was struck for Rs 11 lakh for 11 black cobras.
"Feroze is an illiterate man. We suspect that he has been in this business for the last many years. He used to sell 1 kg of venom for just Rs.6,000 whereas its actual cost in the international market is around Rs.6-7 lakh," Sharma said.