Forest deptartment arrests man for smuggling leopard claws

India: The forest department, along with the wildlife crime control bureau (WCCB), arrested one person for illegally smuggling and selling a bag of leopard claws and teeth at Delhi’s Kashmere inter-state bus terminus (ISBT) on Friday.

Aditya Madanpotra, deputy conservator of forests (north division), said acting on a tip-off, the team--projecting themselves as prospective buyers--met the man at Kashmere Gate ISBT around am on Friday and caught him with a bag of leopard claws and teeth.

“The seller has been arrested and the parts have been seized. We were hoping that the man would turn up with more items because we had received information that he was in possession of more such animal parts and that such items were being transported to other states from Delhi,” said Madanpotra.

He said the department is not going to release the price of the animal parts in the illegal market, as the Wildlife (Protection) Act prohibits making such information public to ensure this trade is not encouraged in any way.

The Indian leopard has been listed as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)--an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources-- because of its depleting population. Poaching of the animal for the illegal trade of its skin and other body parts is strictly banned.

Forest officials said such illegal trade and transit has increased over the last few years and teams are often on alert to track such criminals. The operation often involves coordination from forest and wildlife departments from other states as well.

A senior forest department official explained that even though Delhi is not quite the hub for wildlife-related crimes, it is an important transit point from where poachers and middlemen transport animals, dead and alive, and their body parts.

“After illegally poaching protected animals such as leopards, tigers, crocodiles, and even trading several protected species of birds from the jungles of Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, West Bengal among other places, these illegal traders often use Delhi as a transit point to take these items further into north east India and then even across border to Nepal, Bhutan or China. The value of these items in the black market is quite high,” the official explained

(Source: The Hindustan Times)