Mumbai: DRI seizes 781 organs of Bengal monitor lizards, soft coral; one held

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on Sunday said that it seized as many as 781 organs of Bengal monitor lizards and soft corals. One person has been arrested in the matter in Nashik district in Maharashtra.

According to the DRI, the officials had received specific intelligence that a gang of wildlife traffickers was seeking prospective buyers for Hatha Jodis (Bengal Monitor Lizard Hemipenes) and soft corals. While acting upon the information, a team of officers of DRI Mumbai laid a trap for the traffickers. The extremely cautious trafficker initially called the buyers, who were closely monitored by the DRI team, to Nandagaon railway station (Nashik district) but kept on changing locations for nearly 3 hours, finally deciding to exchange at a tribal hamlet with an extremely harsh terrain consisting of thorny scrubland with no scope for movement of four-wheelers.

It said, Around 3-4 reconnaissance patrol groups on bikes were engaged by the traffickers throughout the area to continuously monitor the area. The DRI team evaded identification by the patrol groups by displaying blue flags on their vehicle and blending in with many other vehicles that displayed the same due to the impending Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations.

The DRI said that as the trafficker brought the contraband for exchange, the  team tried to rush in, but were stopped by a patrol group on a bike. Further, the trafficker was alerted and, in no time, the team was surrounded by 30-odd tribals who started pelting stones at the officers. Using this opportunity, the trafficker and his associates tried to run away with the contraband. However, the officers chased them for over half a kilometre on foot in the rough terrain, managing to apprehend the trafficker and also recovered 781 Hatha Jodis and 19.6 kg of soft corals which are listed under Schedule–I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972.

“The seized wildlife articles along with the detained person were handed over to the Maharashtra State Forest Officials for further action under Wildlife Protection Act,” the DRI said on Sunday.


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