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Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: Besides tigers and elephants, poaching and smuggling of pangolins in Odisha has now emerged as a big headache for the wildlife agencies in the country. Endangered wildlife species are under serious threat from several international racketeers especially from South East Asia, China, European Union as well as the Middle East.

Usually, the racket is quite active in China and Vietnam and after being poached, the animals as well as plants from different parts of India including Odisha are smuggled abroad via Nepal, Burma and Bangladesh, informed chief of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Tilottama Verma.

While addressing a workshop in Bhubaneswar, Verma stressed on intelligence gathering and extensive use of technology to protect the wildlife in the country.

“There is extensive demand of our endangered wildlife species including tiger, leopards, elephants, pangolin, mongoose and others in South East Asia, China, European Union as well as the Middle East,” said Verma.

Verma further said that today pangolin has become critically ‘endangered’ as earlier scales were being smuggled, but now live animals are being trafficked outside the country.

“We need to focus on local wildlife of Odisha as there is huge demand of the animals outside the country. Besides tigers and elephants, there has been a spurt in pangolin smuggling in the last couple of months in the State,” Verma added.

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is the nodal central agency which conducts a detail analysis, interrogates the accused involved in poaching, profiles criminals, spots trends and issues advisory to several States. It also works in tandem with several agencies to protect wildlife in the country.

Despite a spurt in poaching and smuggling of wildlife products, the Odisha Forest department so far has failed to come up with concrete measures to put a check on such illegal trade. As the racketeers usually smuggle the wildlife animals via air, land and sea routes, the high-level meeting today laid emphasis on surveillance.

“We are now stressing on intelligence gathering and we are planning to impart Police training to Forest department officials in the State. Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is also ready to train our officials,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Harishankar Upadhyay.

ADG Railway and Coastal Security, Pranabindu Acharya said, “Several key issues including what are the vulnerable pockets from where animals are being poached and trafficked were discussed at the meeting.”

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