Four arrested for trafficking pangolins in Maharashtra’s Alibag
Four persons were arrested in Alibag, Raigad district, on Thursday for attempting to illegally traffic protected wildlife. Two live pangolins, one adult female and a cub, were recovered from the accused who have been booked under relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972) by the Maharashtra forest department.
Pangolins are protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Act, putting them in the same bracket as tigers, lions, rhinos and several other species. Smuggling or hunting of pangolins -- which are classified as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species -- attracts the highest penalties as per the law.
Thursday’s arrest was made in Navghar region of the Sudhagad Pali forest reserve in Alibag. Officials said they acted on a tip-off and one of them posed as a customer interested in purchasing pangolins for their scales, which are in high demand in the international wildlife market. “We had been on the trail of the accused for three days,” said range forest officer Sameer Shinde, who also credited Alibaug’s deputy conservator of forests Ashish Thakre, and assistant conservator of forests Sanjay Kadam, for their role in the operation.
The four accused have been booked under Sections 9 (prohibition of hunting), 39 (3) (possession of wild animals), 44 (1) (a) (dealing in captive animals), 48 (a) (illegal transportation of wildlife), 49 (purchase of wild animals) and Sections 50, 51, and 51 (a), which deals with arrests and penalties, of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972). They have been remanded to police custody.
This is the third incident in Maharashtra this year where poachers have been arrested for smuggling of pangolins. In February, four people had been arrested from Ahmednagar district and then three persons were arrested from Raigad district in a similar case.