IN AN operation involving a decoy buyer, officials from the state forestry department of Pune and Raigad districts arrested five people and rescued a pangolin they allegedly tried to sell.
Officials from the Pune Forestry Department received reports of possible pangolin smuggling by Honorary Wildlife Custodian and WCCB member Rohan Bhate, who had received information about it.
A decoy buyer meeting was held on Saturday with suspected sellers in Varandha Ghat area, Pune district.
However, the suspects continued to change the location of the meeting and eventually asked the buyer to come to Mahad in Raigad district.
Subsequently, a joint operation was launched by forestry officials from Pune and Raigad in the village of Tol Khurd.
Authorities rescued the pangolin and arrested five people while five others managed to escape. The five people arrested include two from Satara district and three from Raigad district.
Police also seized three bicycles and five cell phones from them. The remaining individuals have been identified because a search has been initiated for them.
An investigation has been launched to find out how the pangolin came into their possession and whether this case was part of a bigger racket.
The rescued pangolin is in good health and has been housed in a forest department facility. The animal will be released into the wild after a court ruling in this regard.
The pangolin, also known as the scaly anteater or Khawale Manjar in Maharashtra, is an insectivorous mammal that has hard scales of keratin on its body. Two of the eight subspecies of the animal are found in India.
The animal has been given protected status, in accordance with Schedule I of the Law on the Protection of Wildlife in the country.
While pangolin scales are mainly used in traditional oriental remedies and luxury items, animal meat is also consumed and sold at a very high price in the illegal market.
There have been cases when the animal was kept in houses in India, because there is a superstition that it brings wealth.
The pangolin is one of the most trafficked animals in the world and authorities suspect that several snowshoes could be active in parts of Maharashtra in which a chain catches them in the forests and sells them to middlemen in the cities to then be resold. to smugglers.
Along with Pune, Thane, Raigad, seizures of animals and scales have also been made in Chandrapur and Nanded district in the past.