Hyderabad: After a weeklong undercover operation, the Telangana forest department detained 12 persons accused of smuggling pangolin skins.
The officials conducted the undercover operations at Hyderabad, Kothagudem, Bhadrachalam in Telangana; and Andhra Pradesh and Odisha states.
According to the forest department, the smugglers were luring tribal people in Bhadrachalam area with some money and were collecting pangolin skins from them. After getting the information, Kothagudem forest dept officials detained one Badavat Ravi.
Based on the information provided by him, the officials laid traps at a number of places including Hyderabad. They took Sunil, Nagaraju and nine more persons in their custody and filed cases under sections of Forest and Wild Animals Act. Three more are absconding, the forest department added.
Pangolin scales are demand in the international black market where 1 kg of pangolin scales costs lakhs. However, China has recently banned the sale and purchase of pangolin meat and skin.
The forest department has seized almost 4 kg of Pangolin scales. The officials believe that at least five pangolins might have been killed at Dammapeta forest area in Kothagudem district. The accused were produced before Kothagudem Magistrate, who sent them to Khammam sub-jail.
The further investigation is on the case, said Kothagudem DFO Ranjeet Naik. (ANI)