Friday, March 08, 2019

Bid to smuggle seahorses to KL busted at airport

In a first for Mumbai, the Forest Department has foiled an attempt to smuggle seahorses out of the city.
The department’s Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit seized 30 kg of the tiny fish at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday.
A Chennai-based passenger was arrested for trying to smuggle the seahorses to Kuala Lumpur. 
The 52-year-old man is suspected to be part of an international gang of smugglers operating in India that is part of the illegal wildlife trade.
 In 2001, seahorses and pipefish were included under Schedule I of India’s Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 (WLPA), preventing the catch and export of these species. Until 2001, they were being used to prepare a traditional Chinese cure for impotence, which was served with rice wine, mixed raw with herbs, or added to soup. It was also believed that seahorses have the potential to cure baldness, asthma and arthritis.
 The United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) restricts the export of seahorses to those that have been sourced sustainably and legally. According to a Forest Department official, the seizure in Mumbai took place around 2.30 am, when the accused arrived at the airport to board his flight.
It was when he was screened at the entry that airport security officials spotted something unusual in his luggage. They checked his bag and found thousands of dead, dried seahorses in it. Airport officials then informed the Mangrove Conservation Unit. The Forest Department officials arrived, examined the dead fish, and immediately seized them. The accused was placed under arrested and booked under relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act.
08/03/19 Vallabh Ozarkar/Mumbai Mirror
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