GUWAHATI: In a major seizure, tiger skull and pangolin scales worth over Rs 2 crore have been seized recently from the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi international airport in Guwahati.
Following a tip-off from the police, personnel of the customs department seized two bags containing 10 kg of tiger skull and huge quantity of pangolin scales, forest department sources on Sunday.
The luggage was to be sent to Imphal via Dimapur. Not ruling out the possibility of the tiger skulls and the pangolin scales to be that of poached animals from the Kaziranga National Park and other wildlife sanctuaries in the state, the sources said these were in great demand in China as it had medicinal value.
The forest department had recently taken a decision to destroy the remains of the horns of poached one-horned rhinos, another highly endangered species, as it was being smuggled.
Some persons have been arrested in this connection but the police and the forest department refused to provide details.
The sources suspect the involvement of an organised racket in the smuggling of these parts to China and other countries of South East Asia. Customs department officials said the seized value of the animal parts will be over Rs 2 crore in the international market as per the figures available with the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India.
The value of pangolin scale per kg was estimated to be nearly Rs 70,000 while 10 grams of tiger skull and bone are currently sold at US $200 in the international market,
the officials said. Following the seizure, a special cell of the customs department has been temporarily set up in the airport and other vulnerable areas to prevent smuggling
of such products.