BHUBANESWAR: Forest officials have detected an online trade link of the pangolin smuggling racket that was busted on Friday. Athagarh Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sasmita Lenka said the accused, involved in the inter-state syndicate that deals with smuggling of wild animals, were in contact with dealers and customers online.
They had formed WhatsApp groups and were also using some websites to send videos to their customers with codes and dealer names as part of the online deals, she informed.
As part of modus operandi, they tagged name of the dealer and a currency note as a code to indicate the weight of the animal before making the video. If the customer was satisfied with the sample, they sent it to the middlemen, operating clandestinely from different parts of the state, especially Dhenkanal and Mayurbhanj, who then transported it to the person concerned outside Odisha or abroad. It was revealed after the forest officials seized the cell phones of the arrested persons.
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The DFO said though they have arrested several persons in this connection, they hadn’t detected such online deal or trade before. Taking lead from the arrested persons, the forest officials in Athagarh have also arrested Premananda Sahoo of Nuapatna in Khuntuni and Ashok Jena of Hemamalpur in Athgarh.
With this, the total number of persons arrested in connection with the smuggling racket has reached eight. “We will seek help from police and forest officials of other divisions to nab the middlemen and other persons involved in this trafficking,” the DFO said.
Pangolins, the most trafficked animals in the world, are also critically endangered in the wild. The DFO said their smuggling violates Sections-9, 39 and 49 (B) of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and a punishable offense under Section-51 of the Act.