West Bengal tops list of wildlife smuggling hubs in India, UP on second spot

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New Delhi | Published: September 23, 2017 12:14:26 PM

West Bengal stands number one in wildlife smuggling along the more than 2,000 km Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan border. It is a porous route that is often exploited by wildlife traffickers, according to Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) figures.

Value Of Geckos Seized During 2014-17 Is Pegged At Rs 95 Crore. (Source: IE)

West Bengal stands number one in wildlife smuggling along the more than 2,000 km Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan border. It is a porous route that is often exploited by wildlife traffickers, according to Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) figures, reported The Indian Express. The SSB, which means the border on this stretch, said seizures of wildlife produce conducted by the force have led to 125 cases in West Bengal between 2014 and 2017, followed by the states of Uttar Pradesh (54), Bihar (36) and Assam (29).

Moreover, the trade in Tokay Gecko from the lizard family, protected under Schedule III of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, has increased. The catchers in Assam, West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Bihar have become active which has caused the rise, as per the report. The Tokay Gecko is a “nocturnal Asian lizard” growing up to 40 cm in length and can be “easily identified by its orange spotted, blue-grey skin”.

As per IE report, the SSB hold the international market rates at over Rs 80 lakh per gecko, depending on size and weight. An SSB official told IE, “Often, low-weight geckos are injected with mercury to make them heavier, though that kills the animal in a couple of days.” He added,”Tokay Geckos are caught illegally and trafficked from these regions to Southeast Asian countries, where many people believe that medicines made from gecko meat can cure diseases such as AIDS and cancer.”

The market value of geckos seized during the 2014-17 period has been pegged at Rs 95,10,85,000. There is a surge in wildlife smuggling over the last three years, based on seizure by SSB. The value of the seized wildlife produces rising from Rs 2.21 crore in 2014 to Rs 187.69 crore in August 2017.

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