Illegal trade of pangolins (representational image) | Photo: Commons
Illegal trade of pangolins (representational image) | Photo: Commons
Text Size:

Raipur: Two days after the Chhattisgarh Police arrested a man with a rare pangolin species from Gariaband district, it confirmed that the suspected smuggler was also from Odisha’s Nuapada district, as were the two other alleged poachers who were arrested with pangolins nearly a fortnight ago.

The police arrested 28-year-old Pitambar Kata Friday with a live pangolin — an endangered, ‘scaly anteater’ mammal — from the Kulhadighat forest area, which borders the state of Odisha.

“Pitambar was arrested, following a tip-off by an informer, as he waited for a client to hand out the rare pangolin species kept in a sack. The pangolin was immediately rescued and given to the forest officials to leave it back in the wild while the man was sent for judicial remand after being presented in the court Saturday,” Gariaband Superintendent of Police Bhojram Patel told ThePrint.

However, the police confirmed that Kata has not yet confessed to his crime, and that he could be part of a wider wildlife trafficking network.

“It appears that the seized pangolin was netted by the poacher from nearby Udanti-Sitanadi Tiger Reserve that lies between the two states. It’s also a Naxal-infested belt and the village where the arrest was made lies on the hilltop,” said Bhushan Chandrakar, SHO at the block Mainpur, who led the team that made the arrest.

Chandrakar added, “Kata could be a part of a wider wildlife smuggling network in the country as some vital information have been accessed by the police that cannot be divulged now.”

Pangolins recently made headlines because initial reports suggested that the Covid-19 virus may have come from these rare mammals. The first case of coronavirus was recorded in the wet markets of Wuhan in China, where live animals including pangolins were traded.

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.


Also read: CBI to probe ‘smuggling’ of sea cucumbers — in first wildlife protection case in years

Poacher could be part of smuggling network that leads to China

According to SP Patel, the police were probing a possible connection between the three men arrested with pangolins within a span of 15 days from different locations bordering the Nuapada district.

A smuggler duo was arrested with two pangolins in a joint operation with the neighbouring Mahasamund police on 14 June, said Patel.

He also confirmed that several such smugglers had been arrested in the area in the last few months.

“Several poachers including two men with leopard skins and 3-4 diamond smugglers were also arrested from this area in the last couple of months. We are dwelling into similar arrests made from these areas in the last few years and are also trying to investigate if there is a bigger network of wildlife criminals involved in this. However, it will take time to establish that if any,” Patel told ThePrint.

Meanwhile, a police officer from Gariaband noted that even though there is no direct evidence available yet, the three pangolin smugglers could be connected to an interstate wildlife crime network that leads to Chinese wet markets.

Pangolins are trafficked illegally in China due to their use in pseudoscientific traditional medicines. Recently, China raised the protected status of pangolins and removed them from the official listing of ingredients approved for use in traditional medicines.

“It’s a well-known fact that Indian and Chinese pangolins are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 for being rare species at par with lions, tigers, leopards and elephants. There is huge demand mainly for pangolin scales and meat in China. Investigation will take place from all aspects,” said Arun Kumar Pandey, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Chhattisgarh.

Pandey added that the department had received the recovered pangolin from the police, and the animal will be given adequate medical aid if needed and then released into the wild again.

Also read: African wildlife meat can cause next pandemic. Airlines, border security must be on alert


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

Share Your Views


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here