International racket behind pangolin smuggling in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: A major international racket seems to be behind the illegal pangolin trade in Odisha as the Special Task Force (STF) of Crime Branch arrested Laltten Kujungku, a key operative and mastermind from Mizoram.

Laltten was nabbed from Mizoram following inputs shared by Shamsuddin Khan, an inter-state pangolin smuggler who was arrested a few days back.

It is suspected that Odisha has become the hub of illegal pangolin trade. Through several north eastern States, the animals are reportedly trafficked to China, Indonesia and other international markets.

Khan was arrested by a team of officials of Mahanadi Wildlife Division on June 18 barely a day before his son Allahrakha was nabbed by Crime Branch’s STF from Daspalla in Nayagarh.

“Several agents are involved in such wildlife smuggling cases and our investigation is on,” said SP STF, Satyajit Nayak.

Sources said the gang is smuggling pangolins and its scales to China via Mizoram and other north eastern states from Odisha.

Pangolin, the ant-eating mammal with armour of keratin scales is used in traditional Chinese medicine. Sources said roasted pangolin scales are used for detoxification of blood, draining pus, and stimulating lactation while its blood is used to treat asthma, cancer and several reproductive problems.

“If local members are nabbed, the roots of the criminal gang behind the racket can be completely eliminated. Besides, already seven to eight poachers involved in other wildlife cases have been arrested in special drives,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Sandeep Tripathy.

Image source: Rainforest Rescue