The Chennai Air Customs on Sunday seized three canine teeth belonging to genus Panthera (spotted big cats) that were being smuggled to India from UAE on an Emirates flight. The custom officials said they had received a tip off that the flight EK-544 from Dubai was supposed to be used for smuggling gold, animal parts. Acting on the trip-off, officials managed to bust the perpetrators.
"On rummaging, two scrunched up tissue papers were found concealed inside the hollow pipe of one of the seats. The first tissue ball contained two animal teeth. The second one contained just a single tooth but along with some ash-like powder. The contraband was concealed in the hollow pipe of a seat of the aircraft. Total three teeth were recovered," a statement from Commissioner of Customs, Chennai International Airport said.
The three Panthera canine teeth and ash-like powder were seized under Customs Act 1962. An investigation has also been initiated to find out who were the people involved in the smuggling.
3 specimens of canine teeth belonging to the genus 'Panthera', along with some ash-like powder, were recovered from an Emirates flight from Dubai, today.The contraband was concealed in the hollow pipe of a seat of the aircraft. A probe is underway: Chennai Air Customs #TamilNadu pic.twitter.com/y1khPfvabC— ANI (@ANI) December 20, 2020
The teeth were sent for examination by an officer of the Wild Life Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and they were affirmed to be the same as canine teeth belonging to the genus "Panthera". They were each longer than 8 centimeters.
Listed under the schedule l of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, Panthera is a genus which is a part of the family Felidae named by Lorenz Oken in 1816. He also placed all spotted cats in this group that classifies big cats like tigers, lions and jaguars under it.
The teeth and powder has been sent to the Advanced Institute for Wildlife Conservation, Tambaram, Chennai for identification of species. There is a huge black market demand for teeth of big cats and they are often sold as lucky charm lockets for a pricey sum.
Smuggling of wild animals' parts have been on the rise, especially recently. A few days ago, almost 50 kgs of sea fans and other smuggled wildlife animal parts including porcupine quills, musk deer pods were seized in Assam by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and Assam forest department.
(With inputs from ANI)