Chennai police have unearthed a racket where exotic animals are being smuggled into the country by students looking to make a quick buck. Live exotics are brought in for various purposes including illegal meat trade as well Indians who prefer off-beat pets, reports TOI.
The animals which smuggled include endangered species like Indian pangolin, red-eared slider, and Indian star tortoise. Shark fins are also a part of the increased exotic animal trade in India, which fetch Rs 50,000 per kilo, the report says. Removing shark fins is not just painful but also cruel because they would drown without them.
Students who are roped into the trade are provided with freebies like air travel and hotel stays, along with money. Chennai has locational advantages like being close and well connected to Asian countries like Thailand and Malaysia. These countries are known for their own trade.
One case which caused a furore in Chennai airport was when a student was caught with an African horned pit viper, a deadly snake. India does not have an anti-venom for this snake and is listed as a ‘near threatened’ species. Leopard cubs were also found in the baggage in the airport, shocking the already stressed customs officials.
In spite of strict laws against animal trade, Indian authorities are unable to charge offenders, due to loopholes. Pangolins and sea cucumbers which are not native to the country are not a part of the list of endangered species in India. And, they are getting away with a mere slap on the wrist. This is probably why it is a good idea for traders to turn India into a hub!
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