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Customs seizes dead sea horses at airport

 
TIMES OF INDIA
Times News Network, August 9, 2010

CHENNAI: Customs officials seized 46kg of dead sea horses worth Rs 4.85 lakh from a Bangkok-bound Sri Lankan national at the airport on Sunday.

Haja Mohideen Mohammed Rafeek, 51, was trying to smuggle the sea horses by concealing them under fish maw in two plastic sacks, according to a press release. He was to travel on a Chennai-Colombo-Bangkok Sri Lankan Airlines flight.

The contraband was seized under the Customs Act and Wildlife Protection Act. The passenger and the sea horses were handed over to the state forest department.

Intelligence officials from customs stopped Rafeek at Anna international terminal as he was proceeding for security check. The press release said he appeared nervous when the officials questioned him. They checked the two plastic sacks he was carrying and found the hidden sea horses.

Sea horses are listed in schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which bans its transfer in any form for commercial use. It is also protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which India has signed.

Sea horses are fished from the coral reefs and shallow waters along the shore of Ramanathapuram. They are used in aphrodisiacs and medication for infertility, asthma, high cholesterol, kidney disorders and skin diseases in traditional Chinese, Korean and Japanese medicine for centuries, said the release.

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