Gangtokian News Desk: Forest officials in West Bengal uncovered a major wildlife smuggling operation this week, arresting four individuals engaged in the illegal trade of endangered animals and their parts. The accused include a recently retired deputy superintendent of police from Sikkim, exposing the involvement of influential actors in this condemned activity.
Ex-Sikkim Officer Caught Smuggling Rare Animal Parts at Bagdogra
On January 18th, Daney Bhutia, previously a deputy SP in Sikkim’s police force, was arrested at the Bagdogra Airport. He was found to be carrying two musk pods weighing 20g and 25g along with the 140g skin of a flying squirrel, concealed inside his vehicle.
Forest Department officials apprehended Bhutia based on a tip-off from a local Siliguri resident who had overheard the retired cop discussing an apparent sale with unknown buyers. It is estimated the seized animal parts are worth Rs. 2.5 crore on the black market.
Investigations so far suggest the suspect sourced the rare contraband from the India-Nepal border town of Chewabhanjyang. As per officials, he intended to transport the goods to international wildlife trafficking routes through Thailand, Myanmar and China.
Bhutia’s relative who was traveling with him at the time was also taken into custody. Both remain under interrogation by enforcement authorities. Conservationists have expressed alarm over the boldness of the smuggling effort and the former policeman’s abuse of his position and credentials.
Smuggled Ivory Tusks Recovered in Birbhum District
In a separate case on January 18th, wildlife officials seized two elephant tusks weighing 14.2kg from an SUV traveling through Birbhum district. They arrested three occupants of the vehicle, all natives of Jharkhand state.
Authorities believe the tusks were sourced from Jharkhand before being smuggled into West Bengal en route to Kolkata or Siliguri markets. The operation involved collaboration between forest rangers, police and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau.
Conservation bodies estimate over 20,000 elephants are poached annually for the multi-billion dollar illegal ivory trade. The latest seizures underline the rampant scale of wildlife trafficking in Eastern India. Officials have vowed stricter enforcement of smuggling routes while prosecuting all those arrested this week.
Gangtokian Web Team, 19/01/24