In a crackdown on illegal wildlife trafficking, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Bengaluru, arrested seven persons, including a woman, at the Kempegowda international airport caught smuggling rare animals and reptiles.
According to the DRI, they arrested three people who came from Bangkok, Thailand, at the airport on January 22 based on a tip-off, and their interrogation resulted in the arrest of four more.
A total of 18 animals, four primates and 14 reptiles were found hidden in boxes in their baggage, the DRI said.
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“Acting on specific intelligence, DRI officers on January 22 intercepted three passengers, including a lady passenger, who had arrived from Bangkok at Kempegowda international airport, Bengaluru. Examination of their checked-in baggage resulted in the recovery of 18 non-indigenous animals (four primates and 14 reptiles) with the assistance of Karnataka Forest Department (KFD) officials,” stated the DRI.
The recovered animals include rare and threatened species like the Yellow and Green Anaconda, Yellow-headed Amazon Parrot, Nile Monitor, Red Foot Tortoise, Iguanas, Ball Pythons, Alligator Gar, Yaki Monkey, Veiled Chameleon, Racoon Dog, White-headed Piones, etc. which DRI said, were handed over to Bannerghatta Biological Park.
The animals attempted to be smuggled by the passengers were seized under the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962.
The import of wild animals, including their parts and products, as defined in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, is prohibited, and those species which are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are subject to the provisions of CITES, the DRI said.
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According to the DRI, after interrogating the arrested alleged smugglers, they also raided a farmhouse under Bengaluru limits and found 139 animals belonging to 48 different species, including 34 CITES-listed species smuggled from overseas.
Upon their arrest, evidence of financial transactions to source non-indigenous wildlife through the route of smuggling, transactions on WhatsApp, and other social media platforms were also unearthed, DRI stated.