Foresters of Baikunthapur forest division arrested two suspected smugglers and recovered pangolin scales, estimated at Rs 5 lakh, from them at Matigara near the Balason river bridge here on Tuesday.
Sanjay Dutta, the range officer of Sarugara Range of Baikunthapur, said they got a tip off that four persons were planning to smuggle pangolin scales from Assam to Nepal through Siliguri. “We spotted the quartet on two motorbikes. As we approached them, two of them escaped but we managed to nab the other two and recovered five kilos of pangolin scales packed in a bag from them,” said Dutta.
The arrested duo Soumen Saha and Partha Das, both residents of Mohitnagar in Jalpaiguri district have been booked under the Wildlife (Protection) Act. On Wednesday, the duo were produced at a local court and sent to judicial custody for 14 days, sources said.
Senior forest officials said that pangolin is listed as a critically endangered species under International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red data book and is also a schedule-I animal under the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
The animal’s meat is largely consumed in China and Vietnam and its scales are used in traditional medicines. A kilo of scale costs around Rs 1 lakh, the sources said.
In another incident, New Jalpaiguri police seized around 210 kilos of cannabis estimated at Rs 30 lakh from Fulbari on Tuesday. Dilip Barman and Kanak Barman, both residents of Sahebganj, Cooch Behar, have been arrested.
Also, Bagdogra police busted an illegal gambling den and arrested 12 persons with around Rs 2.30 lakh on Wednesday.
In Malda, police have seized crackers worth Rs 8.75 lakh in the past 24 hours. Four persons have been arrested so far.