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Now, wildlife smuggling via post office

At least 50 – 60 cases are being detected almost every year... sometimes live animals are also being smuggled, said Tilotama varma, additional director, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau.

india Updated: Dec 02, 2018 09:18 IST
Joydeep Thakur
Joydeep Thakur
New Delhi
wildlife,smuggling,post office
wildlife parts and species are being smuggled out of India via post offices.(HT File Photo (Representational Image))

From live snakes and crocodile hatchlings to feathers, skulls and antlers, wildlife parts and species are being smuggled out of India and into the country. And their traffickers are sending them in shipments routed through the national capital’s foreign post office as well as private courier services.

In the past three years, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), an arm of the ministry of environment and forests formed to combat organised wildlife crime, has intercepted more than 150 such shipments. “At least 50 – 60 cases are being detected almost every year from the foreign post office in Delhi and private courier services. Even though in most of the cases animal parts are smuggled, sometimes live animals are also being smuggled. At least two such cases have been detected since 2017,” said Tilotama Varma, additional director of WCCB.

In August 2017, WCCB was informed about a movement noticed in a parcel passing through an X-Ray machine. An inspection revealed that at least two crocodile hatchlings and a ball python were being smuggled into the country. The parcel had come from Indonesia. Another parcel detected later contained at least seven snakes.

Bird feathers are a popular item for smuggling across the border. “Feathers of birds such as the red jungle fowl, grey jungle fowl, white breasted kingfisher and peafowl are illegally sent out in parcels. Normally they are declared as handicraft products,” said a senior WCCB official who didn’t want to be named.

Feathers of the red jungle fowl are used as bait by anglers in both Europe and America. They are also used in the fashion and jewellery industry.

“The traffickers come up with new techniques to conceal the items almost every time. Sometimes they are concealed in wooden parcels and disguised as handicraft items while some other are concealed in thermocol boxes and declared as fashion products,” said the official cited above.

Red sander wood is another favourite of the smugglers. It is concealed by turning the wood into photo frames and beads that are then declared handicraft products. It is also painted to conceal the colour before being sent through registered post or Speed Post.

The foreign post office in the national capital caters to seven states apart from Delhi – Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

WCCB officials said that to sensitise officials from various agencies, including the post office, customs, police and other security agencies, about wildlife crimes and how to detect them, regular workshops and coordination meetings are held throughout the year.

First Published: Dec 02, 2018 09:18 IST