India: A 19-year-old Chinchpokli resident has been arrested by Mumbai crime branch’s property cell for illegal purchase and sale of forest animals. The accused has been identified as Kunal Solanki. Cops confirmed that two barn owls and an Indian spectacled cobra were found in his possession.
According to sources, on Monday they received a tip off that an illegal animal trade would take place at Byculla. Speaking to mid-day, an officer said, "We were told that a person would arrive at the Byculla Rani Baug main gate to deliver wild animals. We deployed around five cops outside Rani Baug. When we saw this man walking in a suspicious manner near the zoo, we cornered him for questioning. He seemed panicked to have been cornered. When we asked him about the contents of a blue polythene bag he was carrying, he seemed hesitant to answer. We checked the bag to find a black cobra and two owls."
The crime branch sought the help of an animal expert to decipher the value of the recovered animals. He has been booked under relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act. Solanki said the snake was rescued near his residence, and the owls were also rescued from the Chinchpokli area."
Demand and supply
According to Thane Based NGO Wildlife Welfare Association (WWA) there’s a high demand for venomous snakes and barn owls in the illegal market. Aditya Patil, chief of the NGO, who alerted the crime branch about Solanki, said, "An animal lover informed us when he saw a post on a WhatsApp group about two barn owls being put up for sale in Mumbai. We posed as buyers and called the seller. We immediately conveyed the information to the Mumbai crime branch, who acted upon it.
(Source: The Mid-day.com)