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Subadh Kumar Nayak

Athagarh: Officials of Athgarh Forest Division in Cuttack district busted an illegal online smuggling of pangolin recently. Eight persons including a man and his son-in-law have been arrested in this connection.

Huge quantity of pangolin scales have also been reportedly recovered from their possession. Authorities informed that the trail of the racket, a first-of-its kind in Odisha, is believed to have spread its tentacles from Athagarh to beyond the State boundaries and even as far as Myanmar and China via Baripada and West Bengal.

Based on preliminary investigation, the forest authorities have unearthed the surprising modus operandi of the smugglers who used to engage social media applications like WhatsApp and some other websites for their trade. Sources said the peddlers used to send videos to their customers with codes and dealers’ names. For example, if a message showed a ten rupee Indian currency, it would mean a pangolin weighing 10 kg.

Athagarh Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sasmita Lenka said, "There is a huge demand of pangolin scales and live pangolin in the international market especially in Myanmar, Vietnam and China. After failing to sustain their market through traditional methods of trade, now the smugglers are finding new ways to traffic the endangered wildlife by using the internet.”

“The forest department will take the help of the police and forest officials of other forest divisions in the State to identify and nab people those who are involved in the racket. We will also seek the help of some national and international agencies, if needed,” she added.

Meanwhile, the accused persons, during interrogation, have accepted to have sold a 13 kg pangolin for Rs 8 lakh a couple of days ago.

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