19 kg ambergris worth ₹30 crore seized in Kerala, 3 held
The Kerala forest department on Friday seized 19 kg of ambergris, popularly known as whale vomit, from Chettuva in Thrissur district and arrested three persons, officials said. Ambergris is a waxy substance produced by sperm whales. It is a costly substance used in high-end perfumes and aphrodisiac products.
Forest officials said the seized ambergris is worth ₹30 crore in the international market. They added a special team was tipped off about some people planning to sell ambergris in Kochi. Decoy customers were sent and helped arrest three people. The three told officials they managed the source ambergris from some fishermen in Sri Lanka.
Forest officials said whales come under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act and ambergris is considered as an “uncured trophy” of the largest mammal. It is illegal to possess or trade in any of its by-products in the country.
The three arrested men were later remanded in custody by a court. A luxury vehicle in which the accused came was also seized, officials said.
Ambergris is a brownish substance that forms in the abdomen of whales, and they vomit it. It is highly valued by perfume-makers as a fixative that allows the scent to endure much longer. In Japan and China, it is also used in some aphrodisiac products. Many countries prohibit the hunting of whales and the trade of their by-products.