Chennai: Customs officials at Chennai airport on Wednesday got a huge shock as an air passenger who arrived from Bangkok carried six live snakes with him. A tense situation prevailed as sleuths noticed young pythons raising their hood from a basket carried by the passenger identified as Mohammed Azarudin of Mannadi in north Chennai.
Airport sources said Azarudin arrived by a Thai Airways flight.
He said one of his friends gave him the consignment to hand it to a person in Chennai and said he was unaware of the complications. Azaruddin and the baggage were handed over to the Wildlife Crime Bureau. He was arrested.
Trafficking in wild animals require deep probe
Azarudin, who was arrested at Chennai airport, said the pythons and rodents were reared as pets in Thailand and these were harmless creatures often sold as Vasthu animals that brought good luck. He was detained on suspicion as he carried a basket claiming that it had rare herbal plants from Thailand. As the there was no international quarantine certificate or clearance documents from Union forest ministry, he was arrested and handed over to the wildlife wing, sources added.
Central Wildlife crime bureau assistant director Kuruvilla arrived at the airport and took over the consignment. A total of six snakes and six rodents including two endangered reticulate pythons, two green python, two coral snakes, four flying squirrel and two indigenous Thailand rats were smuggled from Bangkok. As most of the seized animals were scheduled endangered animals, cases under Wildlife Protection Act had been registered.
The accused, after being produced before the magistrate court in Alandur, will be remanded to custody, Mr Kuruvilla said. Blood samples were collected from animals and they will be handed over to the state forest department if free from zoonotic infections, he added.
“Of late, Chennai airport has witnessed frequent seizure of wild animals and this needs more intensive investigation. Earlier, the marine animals including star tortoises, sea cucumber and sea horses were often smuggled from Chennai and now animals are brought in from Asian countries,” pointed out a senior forest official.
Recently Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring network, had intimated the forest departments across the country about trafficking animal parts through parcel offices and postal departments.
Horns, ivory, tiger nails and skins were also often smuggled through courier services, and there was need for in-depth study, he added.