RAJKOT: The forest department on Saturday busted a smuggling racket of wild animals’ body parts from Mahuva taluka in Bhavnagar and arrested three persons. They seized four animal nails, believed to be of a panther or lion, from the accused identified as Danabhai Devayatabhai Garania (40) and Jilubhai Bhikhabhai Kamliya (30), both residents of Raydi village in Talala taluka of Bhavnagar and Kanu Vara (26) of Paniya village in Dhari taluka of Amreli. All three have been booked for hunting a Schedule-I animal under the Wildlife Protection Act and will be produced in the court on Sunday, said forest officials. Confirming the development, chief conservator of forest (CCF) in Junagadh, S K Mehta said, “Primarily, we believe that the nails belong to a panther. However, the nails have been sent to the forensic lab for testing.” Forest officials said that Garania and Kamliya had bought the nails from Vara and were trying to sell it in Bhavnagar at a price
ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs10 lakh.
According to forest department sources, they had specific information that somebody was trying to sell nails of a wild animal near Mahuva in Bhavnagar district. The forest department informer posing as a decoy customer convinced the accused duo to sell him the nails. On Friday evening, the accused were called to Gundarada village of Mahuva.
“The informer first built trust with the accused and bargained to show that he was a real customer. After gaining trust, the accused showed the nails to the informer, who intimated us. We arrested Garania and Kamliya and seized two nails from them,” said a forest official. During interrogation, the duo said that they had got the nails from Vara 4-5 years ago. A team led by assistant conservator of forest V A Rathod and range forest officer N D Makwana, which had busted the racket, reached Vara’s house in Paniya village of Dhari and found two more animal nails in his possession. Vara claimed that he had got the nails from a dead panther.
Deputy conservator of forest (DCF) Sandeep Kumar said, “The nails of wild animals are smuggled to China and South East Asia, where it is in demand.” According to the forest department sources, the nails are used for performing black magic. Also, some people wear the nails as a pendant or ring believing that it will give them power and wealth.