MYSURU: In probably a first-of-its-kind case in the state, a gang that was trying to sell Ambergris -- commonly known as whale vomit -- worth over Rs 8 crore was detained near Kushalnagar.
The Mysuru Forest Department Mobile Squad received a tip-off about a group of people carrying whale vomit near Kushalnagar in a car. When they tried to intercept the car, the accused tried to flee the spot.
The 20-member squad led by Deputy Conservator of Forests Ramakrishnappa, ACF Manohar Suvarna and Range Forest Officer (RFO) Vivek chased them and apprehended four members of the gang while one of them escaped.
Forest sleuths detained K A Ibrahim of Hodavada village in Kodagu, B E Rafiq and Tahir Nakash of Kushalanagar and K M George of Junnaparambail in Kannur district in Kerala, while prime accused Riaz of Koynadu in Kodagu is absconding.
Forest sleuths seized whale vomit weighing over 8.25 kg from the accused and also seized the car used to transport it along with cellphones.
According to forest sleuths, Ambergris is a solid and waxy substance produced in the digestive system of the sperm whale and is produced only by an estimated 1 per cent of these whales. This glue-like substance is used to enhance the aroma of perfumes and also make medicine. It's very valuable in Gulf.
"This probably is a first case in the state and we have formed a special team to trace from where they managed to get hold of the Ambergris," said RFO Vivek.
Meanwhile, forest officials suspect a connection between the accused and a network of smugglers from Kerala, as Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) officials had recently seized over 18 kg of Ambergris in Thrissur recently.
Sources revealed that a kg of ambergris is purchased for over Rs 1 crore in the international market.