Three persons, all residents of north India, were arrested after around 48 kilos of pangolin scales were recovered from their possession in Siliguri early on Thursday.
According to forest sources, a team of Baikunthapur forest led by range officer Sanjay Dutta conducted a raid at Sitalapara near Jalpai More of Siliguri and apprehended the trio. The scales, they said, were in four gunny bags.
“Altogether, around 48 kilos of scales have been seized from them. As they could not produce any valid document, all three of them have been arrested,” said a forester.
According to sources, the estimated value of the seized pangolin scales is around Rs 50 lakh.
Those arrested have been identified as Bhag Chand Dhabi and his son Dharambir Dhabi, who hail from Navanagar in Haryana, and Dalbir, a resident Nawanshahr of Punjab.
A senior forest official said pangolin is an endangered species and killing and consuming its meat and using its body parts is strictly prohibited.
“During preliminary investigation, we have come to know that the trio are habitual traffickers of wild animal parts. They had extracted the scales after killing pangolins in the forests of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh,” said the forester.
“They had plans to smuggle the scales to Nepal through a syndicate which operates in the region and uses Siliguri as a corridor. Charges under Wildlife (Protection) Act have been brought against them,” the official added.