Athagarh: The Odisha Forest department suspects that a foreign source may be involved in the smuggling of pangolins in the state.
“We have information that a foreign racket is involved in the smuggling of pangolins in Odisha,” the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Athagarh, Sasmita Lenka, told the media on Thursday.
In this connection, the Forest department will take 10 persons, who were recently arrested for smuggling pangolins, on a seven-day remand for interrogation, the DFO said.
The interrogation of the 10 accused will reveal further details about the involvement of other persons and rackets in the smuggling of these endangered species, she added.
Lenka informed that the 10 accused were booked under Sections 9, 39, 44, 49 and 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
“The statements of those arrested reveal that some persons involved in the racket have managed to escape and released some pangolins inside a forest under Athagarh Forest Division. Tigiria Forest Range staffs are conducting raids on villages to find these members,” she added.
On December 2, forest officials had arrested Bibhuti Bhusan Sahu of Ratagada village under Barang police limits, Akash Behera of Suniamuha village under Gurudijhatia police limits, Satia Behera of Dabarapalli village under Khuntuni police limits, Raju Dehuri of Gundichapur village under Athagarh police limits, Prasant Sethi of Kuleilo village under Athgarh police limits, Ashok Kumar Jena of Hemamalpur village under Athagarh police limits and Dhruba Charan Sahu of Nuapatna village under Choudwar police limits.
Later on December 9, Biswajit Samal of Gobindpur village in Dhenkanal district, Ratikanta Behera of Dalaka village in Khurda district and Ashutosh Sahu of Gholapur village under Banki police limits were arrested for allegedly smuggling pangolins.