Three suspected smugglers were arrested after a pangolin and its scales weighing around a kilo were recovered from their possession at Gajoldoba in Jalpaiguri district on Thursday evening.
According to the foresters of Baikunthapur forest division, they had information that a group of miscreants had planned to smuggle a pangolin and some scale to Nepal through Siliguri from Gajoldoba.
“Accordingly, we reached Gajoldoba and spotted the trio in the locality on a motorbike with a black bag. Our team intercepted them and searched the bag and recovered a pangolin and its scales weighing around one kilo,” said Sanjay Dutta, range officer of the Sarugara range of Baikunthapur.
“They were arrested after they failed to produce a valid document for possessing the animal and the scales,” added Dutta.
Those arrested have been identified as Sunil Oraon, a resident of Gurjungjhora, Mijanur Rahman of Chowk-Moulani and Amzad Hussain of Lataguri, all located in Jalpaiguri district.
Dutta mentioned that charges under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 have been brought against the arrested trio.
Sources in the state forest department said that pangolin is mostly found in India, China and in some other south-east Asian countries and parts of Africa.
“The animal’s scale is used to make traditional medicines. Also, its meat is consumed in China. We suspect those arrested have link with smuggling rackets and had plans to smuggle the animal and the scale to China via Nepal,” said a forest officer.
A wild tusker entered Khasbusty, a village in Nagrakata block of Jalpaiguri, on Thursday night and damaged nine hutments, boundary walls of some houses and a betel nut plantation.
Sources said the jumbo had entered the village from the adjoining Jaldhaka forest and it returned back to the forest around 2am.
Later, a forest team visited the spot. “The affected families will get compensation from the department,” said a forester.