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Illegally smuggled marine life products seized in Guwahati; biggest seizure in the country

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Guwahati, Dec 3: Assam Forest Department and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) got a major success when they were able to make a massive seizure of illegally smuggled marine life products, mostly sea fans apart from parts of several endangered species from Guwahati on Wednesday.

The seizure is the biggest of its kind in the country, a massive joint operation was carried out on Wednesday by WCCB and the forest department.

The main seizure actually took place near the famed Kamakhya Temple on top of Nilachal hills in Guwahati.

In 50 Kg of sea fan, 14 musk deer pod, 2 Kg of broken pieces of musk pod, 43 body parts of Monitor Lizard, 1.5 Kg of Porcupine scales and spike have been seized, Assam Forest department revealed on Thursday.

Assam Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya had earlier ordered a ‘zero tolerance’ against wild and aquatic life smuggling.

According to Forest department sources, this is the first time that marine products have been seized in the Northeast, although the coastal line is actually thousands of miles away from the region.

The first raid conducted at Ganeshguri Lakhi Mandir seized 600 pieces of sea fans, which is enlisted in Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. One person was arrested in this raid. Based on his interrogation more raids were carried out, two more persons were nabbed.

From their possession, 34 kg of sea fans were seized, apart from 14 pieces of suspected musk pod, 1.5 kg porcupine spikes, 43 pieces of Hathjora, and several unidentified animal body parts.

“We are told that this is the seizure of marine product in the country till date. Our investigation is on since this should be an organized nexus of smugglers and we need to track the entire chain. This might also be part of an international network” said Rajib Baruah, DFO Guwahati East Forest division.

Sea fans look a lot like plants with colorful, forked ‘branches’ but they are actually animals, just like their relatives, the corals and jellies. Sea fans are colonial animals made up of many tiny, individual animals that work together as one, officials added.

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