Ivory in parcel seized at airport

Guwahati, April 27 : Customs sleuths today confiscated an Ahmedabad-bound parcel containing ivory at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport here.

“Acting on specific intelligence, officers of the anti-smuggling unit of Guwahati customs division seized three pieces of elephant tusk at Guwahati airport this morning,” S.R. Baruah, commissioner of customs (preventive), Northeast, said.

“The consignment was booked under Speed Post parcel from Silapathar in Dhemaji district of Assam and it was destined for Ahmedabad,” he said.

The ivory pieces, weighing 3.450kg, were found concealed under paddy husk inside the Speed Post parcel.

The parcel was seized when it was about to be loaded into an Ahmedabad-bound Spicejet flight. The customs officials made the seizure in the presence of forest and postal officers.

The customs department has registered a case under relevant provisions of the Customs Act and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, but nobody has been arrested in this connection so far.

“The case is under investigation and the main culprits are likely to be apprehended very soon. The value of the tusk is estimated at Rs 10.35 lakh in the domestic market,” Baruah said.

However, its value is likely to run into crores of rupees in the international market.

Superintendent of customs (anti-smuggling) D.C. Bania said in the records of the postal department, the name of the consignee is written as Mahesh T. Shah of Choksi Bazar at Visnagar in Mehsana district of Gujarat.

Bania, however, refused to divulge the name and address of the consignor “in the interest of the investigation”.

“The three pieces were of the same tusk and efforts are on to recover the other tusk of the pair,” he said.

Customs sleuths suspect that the tusk is of an adult Asiatic elephant poached somewhere in the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh.

Smugglers of animal parts and wildlife products in the Northeast are now increasingly taking the aerial route.

According to a source, the wildlife products are being smuggled through Speed Post because there is no facility in post offices to screen the parcels in order to find out what it contains.