Environment group demands CBI probe into smuggler-official nexus

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Guwahati, Feb 4 (UNI) Nature's Beckon an environment activist group in North East, today demanded a CBI inquiry into the alleged officials-poachers-smugglers nexus that trade in dead animals skins and valuable organs.

Speaking to newsmen here, group director Soumyadeep Dutta expressed concern at the continued smuggling of animal parts as well as poaching in various jungles in the entire NE, including Assam.

He informed that Nature's Beckon had approached the forest department and obtained valuable information regarding animal parts in their possession.

Quoting the reports, Mr Dutta said the forest department had 1,498 rhino horns in its possession. He claimed that the organisation had evidence of the forest department selling horns illegally prior to 1972.

'' As per our estimate, between 1980 to 2007, 1506 rhinos were killed in the state. So, the number of rhinos killed or dead since 1972 would obviously be much more,'' he stated.

'' Similarly, the department had 1,334 elephant tasks, though the number of elephants killed or dead was much higher,'' Mr Dutta said.

He said, '' We have urged the Chief Minister to institute a CBI inquiry to identify the persons behind the smuggling of animals bones, skins and tusks. It would not be possible to contain smuggling and killing until the people involved in these crimes are punished,'' Mr Dutta added.

Alleging the involvement of forest department officials in poaching and smuggling, Mr Dutta, quoting the Traffic International report of 1996, pointed to involvement of a Kaziranga National Park official in a rhino poaching case, '' The Centre's ban in trade of animal products and parts has had little impact on the illegal trade, since demand of such precious animals bones, skins, horns and tusks of various animals was high,'' he said and added that the entire NE region, with its dense forests rich in flora and fauna, was a favourable place for the smugglers.

The skin of Cheetah costs Rs eight lakh to Rs 30 lakh in the international market , while the price of a rhino horn is between Rs 12 to 20 lakh.

UNI PB-SG KK SHB PK KP1833

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