Man held with monitor lizard skin bag at Delhi’s IGI airport
In a joint operation by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), an Algerian man was arrested at the Delhi airport on March 27 for carrying a bag made of a monitor lizard’s skin.
According to the CISF, around 3 am on March 27, a passenger arrived to board a flight to Doha from Terminal 3. As he headed for frisking and baggage check, a CISF personnel spotted the bag. “The passenger was identified as Abdelouahab Bouaziz, an Algerian national. On enquiry, Bouaziz said he had purchased the bag in Algeria, but he could not produce a document and the customs was alerted. A team of wildlife officials along with a CBI team arrived at the airport and Bouaziz was handed over,” Hemendra Singh, assistant inspector general, CISF, said. A CBI spokesperson refused comment.
In India, the monitor lizard (Varanus bengalensis) is a protected species under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, indicating that they are highly endangered and strictly protected. Varanus is a family of monitor lizards. At least two species of these lizards fall under Schedule I of the 1972 Act.
A senior WCCB official said, “This invokes a punishment of not less than three years in jail and a maximum of seven years. For repeat offenders, a fine of Rs 25,000 could be imposed on them, over and above the jail term.”
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