WCCB & Forest Dept seize 34 kg of sea fan

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Guwahati, Dec 2 (PTI) The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and Assam Forest department on Wednesday seized over 34 kg of sea fan or Gorgonians and apprehended three persons in this connection from near Kamakhya temple here.

Following intelligence inputs, WCCB and the Guwahati forest range office conducted a joint search operation at Ganeshguri Lakhi Temple area and seized 600 pictures of sea fan and arrested a person, a WCCB statement said.

Sea fan is a variety of soft coral. This marine species is under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act.

After interrogating the arrested person, further operations were launched at two places in the market area of the Kamakhya temple from where 34 kg of sea fan and other animal parts were seized from two other persons were taken into custody.

Besides, 14 pieces of deer musks, 1.5 kg of porcupine spikes, parts of monitor lizard and other unidentified animals were also recovered from their possession.

Preliminary probe revealed that all the animal parts were procured by the arrested traders from several sadhus and devotees visiting Kamakhya over the last few years.

'This is the first seizure of corals in the North East and possibly the biggest in India. Corals are under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and are referred to under Schedule I. Smuggling and handling of corals can lead to a 3-7 year sentence,' an official said.

The whole operation was led by Guwahati Range Forest Officer Pankaj Borah and Hiten Borah of WCCB, it added. PTI DG RG RG