GUWAHATI: In a first in Northeast and one of the biggest hauls of sea fans (gorgonians) in the country, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and forest department here seized over 34 kilos of sea fans (enlisted in schedule-I ) from the capital city of Guwahati.
At least three persons were arrested in connection with the case.
WCCB sources said, “As per the intelligence input developed by WCCB Guwahati and Guwahati forest range office conducted a joint search operation at Ganeshguri Lakhi Temple area and seized 600 pieces of sea fans and arrested one person namely Rahul Choudhary.”
Based on the revelation of Choudhury, the joint sleuths further launched its operation near the Kamakhya temple atop Nilachal hills here and seized 34 kilos of sea fan and other animal parts from two other persons.
“Another raid operation conducted at two places of the market area of Kamakhya temple and seized 29 kilos of sea fan from the possession of Jitendra Saha and five kilos of sea fan from the possession of Santosh Gupta,” the WCCB official added.
Sources added that besides sea fan, 14 pieces of deer musks, 1.5 kilos of porcupine spikes, parts of monitor lizard and other unidentified animals from the duo’s possession too.
A preliminary probe revealed that all the animal parts were procured by the arrested traders from several sadhus and devotees of Kamakhya over the last few years.
“This is the first seizure of corals in the northeast and possibly the biggest in India. The coral smuggling market has been active for over two decades. Corals are under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and are referred to under Schedule I. Smuggling and handling of corals can lead to a 3-7 year sentence,” said a top WCCB official.