Chennai: Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the Customs are on high alert in the International airports of Tamil Nadu after several cases of smuggling of exotic species into the state were busted.
The Central agencies have busted at least six cases of smuggling of exotic species into Chennai airport in the last one month. Three cases of busting of wildlife species in Madurai and Coimbatore also have put the officials of both Customs and DRI on high alert.
A senior officer of the DRI while speaking to IANS said: “Iguanas, Aldabra tortoises, marmosets, tarsier monkeys, armadillo, and porcupines were the exotic wild life that was seized from passengers who reached the international airports in Tamil Nadu with a high level of smuggling into Chennai compared to other airports.”
Customs officials said that all the smuggled exotic species were brought in through check-in baggage and in Chennai, the entry was from Bangkok via Thai Airways.
All these exotic wildlife are small species and are covered under the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES). The Wild Life Control Bureau is the authority for CITES in South India. The agency has already written a letter to the authorities in Bangkok on the smuggling of exotic species of wildlife into the country.
The seized exotic species are treated at the airport by the Customs officials with the support of Wildlife Control Bureau officials and if the animals are fit to travel, they are transported to the country from where they arrived. The officials feed the animals and transport only when they are fit enough to travel.
In Madurai, Coimbatore, and Trichy airports, Customs officials are keeping a tab on whether these airports are used as hubs for smuggling following high security at Chennai and the increase in number of seizures in Chennai.