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Govt orders CBI probe into seizure of tiger parts in Guwahati

 
DECCAN HERALD
New Delhi, Jun 23 (PTI)

The government has ordered a CBI probe into the seizure of 20 kg of tiger parts and skeletons worth Rs 5 crore from Guwahati airport, which were allegedly meant for flourishing traditional medicine market in China and Far East Asia.

Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh has directed a CBI investigation while expressing concern that Guwhati in the Northeast has become a major hub for smugglers to tranship wildlife products to neighbouring countries, as indicated by frequent seizures.

Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), said "it is a serious issue having national and international ramifications. CBI has been asked to probe into backward and forward linkages thread-bare in the case.

Since the seizure was made the Customs Department, the Centre considered the case fit for CBI investigation instead of handing it over to Assam government.

The huge haul of tiger parts recently as well also a few months ago from the airport has put a question mark on the country-wide conservation measures being initiated to save the big cat in forests.

"Untill the poachers are reined in and demand for tiger parts is curbed, the big cats in forests would remain vulnerable, notwithstanding various steps taken for its safety.
"This is perhaps the biggest seizure of tiger parts in recent times," Gopal added. Ramesh has written a letter to the Minister of State for Finance (Revenue) S S Palanimanickam to give all possible help to CBI.While asking the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) to pool in resources along with CBI, he also stressed the need for renewing of enforcement strategies to check wildlife trade.

Given the fact that the consignment was coming from Dimapur in Nagaland, central wildlife agencies suspect the tigers may have been poached in Kaziranga and was on its way to China or South Asian countries to meet the huge demand there.

Along with tiger parts, the consignment contained 555 kilograms of pangolin scales. Pangolins are protected under Schedule One of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. Its scales have a huge demand in China as traditional medicines.

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