GUWAHATI: Five Gaboon vipers, a pair of albino African pythons, three marmosets and one meerkat were among a large consignment of exotic animals which was seized by Assam Police and the forest department at the city’s Jorabat area near the Meghalaya inter-state border on Saturday. This is the largest seizure of exotic animals in the state so far, indicating that Guwahati is increasingly being used by traders as a conduit for illegally supplying exotic animals for sale in the international pet market.
Police said one Pradip Kumar of Budaun district in Uttar Pradesh was arrested on Saturday when the animals were found in his possession during a vehicle search at Jorabat. Most of the species which were found with him are native to Africa and South America.
Jorabat officer in-charge Partha Pratim Gogoi said Kumar sourced the animals from Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram, and was coming to Guwahati on a Tata Sumo to board a Delhi-bound train. “We had information about a person coming with a large number of exotic animals from Aizawl. Our searches led to seizure of the live animals. All the animals have been taken to the zoo for necessary veterinary care,” Gogoi said.
Police informed that Kumar has said he was visiting Aizawl for the first time and a person named Sawma handed over the animals to him inside a hotel on Friday. The animals were to be handed over to a person named Pankaj in Delhi, Kumar has also revealed.
Police, the forest department and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) are interrogating Kumar to unearth the opus operandi in sourcing the exotic animals and the role of the northeast as a supply route in this illegal trade.
Guwahati wildlife divisional forest officer Pradipta Baruah said some of the animals which Kumar was transporting died during the journey.
A senior WCCB official said the animals might have been procured from Thailand and brought into Mizoram through Bangladesh. “The seizure has established that the traders have been using Guwahati as a transit route. Now it is clear that wildlife parts are not only smuggled out of the northeast to neighbouring countries, but also this region is becoming a major conduit for illegal trade in exotic animals which are in demand in the international pet market,” the WCCB official said.