BENGALURU: Chikkamagaluru territorial forest officials and forest police have unearthed a big pangolin trading gang with links to other cities in the country. They trapped a 10-member gang involved in hunting and trading pangolins. The gang comprising 10 youths from different villages bordering Bhadra forests were nabbed on Tuesday night when they were trying to sell pangolin scales. According to forest officials, they had killed three pangolins in Muthodi, Kalasapura and Belur.
The gang had formed a local network for trading scales. Tracking the network after receiving information, officials arrested the youths who were estate and timber workers. One of them is a real estate agent and one a painter. They are Abdul Rehman (habitual offender) from Uppalli, Chikkamagaluru town, Navid Basha from Kalsapura, Mallesha and Dharmesha from Hosambala near Muthodi Range, Sundresha from Mallaluru, Vishwanath and Mahendra from Nagarahalli, Pradeep and Srinivasa from Sakrepatna and Mohan Kumar from Javagal.
Basha and Pradeep are wildlife traders dealing in snakes, tortoises and other species. In all, 6kg of pangolin scales were recovered. Preliminary probe revealed their activity started with hunting pangolins near Bhadra Tiger Reserve while trading of its scales were traced to Bengaluru and Chennai. Chikkamagaluru territorial DCF Jaganath said, “We have found a link from Belur to Bengaluru and it goes deep, maybe, to global markets like China. All 10 are in judicial custody for 14 days.”