Forest officials arrested three people from Jalpaigudi in north Bengal on Wednesday for allegedly trying to smuggle the fangs of a Bengal tiger to China through Nepal.
Forest officers said they found four people bargaining over the contraband near Chalsa forest on the NH-31 around 12.30 am. One of the suspects managed to give them the slip.
The arrested people were identified as Prem Nath Tanti (37), a resident of Carron Tea Estate in Nagrakata; Raina Khatun (45) from Totapara in Banarhat; and Dipak Mahali (41), hailing from Nagrakata in Jalpaiguri district.
“Two canines, measuring 1.9 cm and 2.9 cm respectively, were recovered from their possession. Their operation was part of an international racket,” said Sanjay Dutta, Belacoba forest ranger. The arrested people were charged under sections 9 (prohibition of hunting), 44 (dealings in trophy and animal articles without licence), 48a (possessing animal articles), 49 (purchase of captive animal) and 49B (cooking or serving meat of any scheduled animal in an eatery) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act-1972. If convicted, they may face a jail term of up to seven years.
Preliminary inquiries revealed that the animal was probably killed in Bhutan. The investigators are trying to locate the tiger’s skin and bones.
Smugglers abound in this stretch of north Bengal as it shares its borders with three neighbouring countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. “Tiger pelts, bones and teeth are in high demand in China,” said Dutta.