Exotic wildlife smuggling through NE into India on rise

GUWAHATI: Smugglers in the wet markets of South East (SE) Asian countries are using the northeast as an active transit route to supply endangered wildlife to mainland India. The forest department rescued four endangered gibbon species on Wednesday and raided a stockyard in Hajo near Guwahati the next day, unearthing an international racket that has its roots upto South America and Australia.

A brown tufted capuchin, endemic to South America, and a wallaby, found primarily in Australia and its nearby islands, were being smuggled to Hyderabad. Forest department officials said the consignment was a part of pet trade. Researchers pointed out that the sea routes connected to the SE Asian nations are being used to cater to the growing demand of exotic wildlife. Another consignment of five more primate species was rescued earlier this month in Assam's Karbi Anglong district.

“These exotic wild mammals were being transported to farm houses in Hyderabad. The driver of the vehicle fled the spot but one person from Maharashtra, who was accompanying the consignment, has been apprehended,” divisional forest officer (DFO) Sunnydeo Choudhary told TOI.