Pune: 3 held for possession of pangolin; third case in 10 months

In June this year, the Pune City Police’s Crime Branch had arrested two persons on Katraj-Kondhwa Road with a pangolin, estimated to cost Rs 50 lakh. (Express photo)

Three persons have been arrested after they were found to be in possession of a pangolin. Police have identified the accused as Jitendra Mohite (32), Yogesh Patil (30), both from Raigad district, and Kumar Savant (46), from Kolhapur. An offence in this case was lodged at the Chandan Nagar police station.

A team from Chandan Nagar police station laid a trap and nabbed the three from Kharadi area. During their search, police recovered a three-year-old pangolin from their possession. Police suspect that the three suspects procured the pangolin from Konkan area and came to Pune to look for a customer to sell it to.

Pangolin scales are mainly used in traditional oriental remedies. The animal is also consumed for meat or luxury items are made from its dried scales. Pangolin is one of the most trafficked animals, said police.

In June this year, the Pune City Police’s Crime Branch had arrested two persons on Katraj-Kondhwa Road with a pangolin, estimated to cost Rs 50 lakh. Police said the duo came from Kolhapur for sell the pangolin and were looking for a customer in Pune.

In January, city police had arrested 27-year-old Vinayak Pauskar from Belgaum in Karnataka, who had come to sell a packet of pangolin scales in Katraj area. Police had recovered over 4.5 kg of pangolin scales, which were priced at Rs 1.5 lakh per kg in the domestic black market. Subsequently police arrested one Ganpati Sutar (50), sarpanch of a village in Chandgad taluka of Kolhapur district, from whom Pauskar had allegedly procured the contraband animal parts.

During further probe in this case, police arrested three more persons and recovered a pangolin from their possession. Police suspect that some racketeers even try to smuggle pangolins out of India.

A pangolin, also known as scaly ant-eater, is an insectivorous mammal which has hard scales of keratin on its body. While two of its eight subspecies are found in India, it has been given protected status as per Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act in the country. The animal is found across India in different types of forests and is known to be solitary and nocturnal in its behaviour.