The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) along with local police had on two separate raids seized 5.725 kg of Pangolin scales from central Assam’s Hojai district on Wednesday.
Five persons — Brajakumar Singha, Mohan Kumar Enghi, Rahmatulla, Biru Singh and Nijamuddin – all residents of Hojai, have been arrested and handed over to Hojai police in this connection.
The central investigating agency on crimes related to wildlife that has its headquarters in Guwahati had made the two raids based on “intelligence inputs”.
While the bulk of the seized scales, 4.860 Kg were recovered from a location bordering the Nagaon district, rest of 0.865 kg were seized from Hojai town, the district headquarters.
According to sources in the bureau, Pangolin Scales sell at prices exceeding Rs 1 lakh in the international grey market that is sky rocketing after the Chinese government has officially removed pangolin scales from a list of approved ingredients in traditional medicine post COVID-19 pandemic.
Pangolins have grabbed news headlines in recent days after researchers at South China Agricultural University said that the pangolin could be an intermediary host for the novel coronavirus. Though not verified yet, the report has prompted he Chinese government to ban consumption of exotic animals including Pangolin sold in its wet market.
Pangolin scales, like rhino horn, have no proven medicinal value, yet they are used in traditional Chinese medicine to help with ailments ranging from lactation difficulties to arthritis. The scales typically dried and ground up into powder, which may be turned into a pill.
The WCCB also feel the pangolin scale was bound to China from Hojai via NC Hills, Nagaland, and Myanmar.