In the latest crackdown on wildlife offenders, the Special Task Force (STF) of Crime Branch on Saturday arrested a man near Dhauli Chowk on the outskirts of the city and recovered around 4 kilograms of pangolin scales from his possession.
On a tip off, the STF personnel flanked by local forest officials conducted a raid and nabbed the accused identified as Biswajit Pattanaik.
“During search 4 kilograms of pangolin Scales and other incriminating materials were recovered from his possession. The accused person could not produce any authority in support of possession of such wildlife trophies, for which he has been detained and handed over to DFO City Forest Officials for necessary legal action at their end. Inquiry is continuing”, STF said in a statement.
The India pangolin figures in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species. It is trafficked for its scales and meat which is much in demand in China, Vietnam and south-east Asian countries.
Sources said Pangolins have a thick layer of protective scales made from keratin, the same material that makes up human fingernails and rhinoceros horns. Scales account for about 20% of the animal’s weight. When threatened, pangolins curl into a ball, using the scales as armor to defend against predators adding the scales are sold in lakhs.
The STF in its drive against wildlife offences has arrested 61 wildlife criminals in the past two years. The wildlife trophies seized during the operations included among other things 26 leopard skins, 15 elephant tusks, 7 deer skins, 11 live pangolins and 23.5 kilograms of pangolin scales, two leopard teeth, 29 leopard claws besides 46 live wild parrots.