Wildlife & Biodiversity

Border, forest officials seize live pangolins, deer horns on Bihar-Nepal border

The pangolins were seized from the Valmiki Tiger Reserve in West Champaran district; the deer horns were found in Araria district

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Friday 11 March 2022
The Indian Pangolin. Photo: iStock

Two endangered pangolins have been rescued and deer horns seized in Bihar’s Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) in the past 24 hours, exposing the ongoing illegal trade of wildlife.

A joint team of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the Bihar forest department rescued the pangolins and arrested two smugglers in the Govardhan forest area of VTR, West Champaran district.

Sujit Kumar, a forest official, said the joint team raided two suspected smugglers near Bakhri Bazar Gaon in the Govardhan forest area March 10, 2022, following a tip off and rescued the two pangolins from them. The forest officials had been on alert since last week when they were tipped off.

Kumar said the arrested smugglers were identified as Sanjay Kumar and Nagendar Kumar. Both are residents of Valmikinagar. They were interrogated and sent to jail.

The Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), is protected under Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. Poaching or other crimes against the species can attract serious penalties.

According to wildlife experts, pangolin scales and body parts are used for preparing traditional medicines in some Asian countries, for which the mammal is in high demand in the international trafficking market. Smugglers prefer live pangolins, which fetch more money (in lakhs) than the scales.

A team of SSB also seized deer horns worth Rs 22 lakh and arrested two smugglers at Aamgachi near the Nepal border in Araria district.

Vinod Kumar, in-charge of the SSB camp at Aamgachi, said the arrested smugglers came from the Nepal side with deer horns. “They revealed during interrogation that they were directed to deliver deer horns to a man in Jogbani,” Kumar said.

A senior official of Bihar’s environment, forest and climate change department admitted that poaching of wildlife animals was being reported frequently, unlike the past.

“It appears that in recent years, Bihar has become a transit hub for body parts of poached animals and live wildlife animals,” the official said.

The smugglers have been using the state to move body parts of poached animals as well as live specimens either to Nepal or West Bengal, to send them to China, Myanmar and other southeast Asian countries, where demand is high for use in traditional medicines.

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