BHUBANESWAR: The Wildlife Wing of Odisha Government on Tuesday sought support from Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) to unearth the inter-state and international trade route linked to pangolin smuggling racket which was busted by Athagarh Forest Division.PCCF (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden HS Upadhyay, who had held talks with WCCB Central Region, said the Bureau will start its investigation very soon. A report on the racket will be handed over to WCCB to carry out its investigation, he informed.
The WCCB is an autonomous body under Ministry of Environment and Forests mandated with wildlife crime investigation. Athagarh Division will coordinate with the Bureau to nab other persons involved in the syndicate that had established an online trade network to operate clandestinely. So far, eight persons have been arrested.
The Forest Division had managed to gather huge information regarding the smuggling racket, including its modus operandi, from mobile phones of the arrested persons. The officials suspect an international link to this inter-state syndicate as demand for pangolin is stated to be high in China, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Athagarh DFO Sasmita Lenka said the crime control bureau is likely to take help of International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) to unearth the global trade link of this smuggling racket.
The arrested persons had formed a Whatsapp group and were also active on websites to send videos to their customers with codes and dealer names as part of their online deal. Efforts are on to nab the middlemen who were involved in transporting the critically endangered species and its scales outside Odisha, she said.
Meanwhile, the Chief Wildlife Warden has requested people to remain alert and report immediately to forest officials and police whenever they suspect pangolins are smuggled since the traffickers mostly transport the mammals in bags through two-wheelers and other mode of personal and public transport.