Assam Rifles seizes 15 kg tiger bones, skulls

IMPHAL: Assam Rifles personnel seized a large quantity of tiger parts, including 15 kg of bones and skulls from four animal parts' smugglers at Sita track in Manipur's Chandel district bordering Myanmar.

The country's oldest paramilitary force, which is guarding the long porous international borders in the remote tribal-dominated district, has recovered a large quantity of rare animals' parts in the last few years. Wildlife analysts said rare animals' parts are in high demand by cosmetic and drug-manufacturing companies in Southeast Asian countries and smugglers take advantage of the porous borders to siphon off the nation's treasure.

Having discovered the transportation route of banned wildlife parts, 29 AR troops launched an operation in Sita track area on Sunday evening, a statement of the force said. The soldiers then intercepted a jeep carrying four individuals along with the animal parts; the vehicle was headed towards the border town of Moreh. All four are residents of Tengnoupal in the district.

The soldiers seized 15 kg of tiger bones with two skulls and a skin of the rare animal weighing 4.5 kg, the statement added. The apprehended, along with the recovered parts, were handed over to Manipur forest department authorities in Imphal. An FIR has been registered against them in Tengnoupal police station.

In February 2009, two tiger skulls, 16 kg bones and paws of the rare animal were recovered by the Assam Rifles from Bongyang military check-post in the same district. The force also seized 3 kg tiger bones from Moreh town in March this year. Other animal parts like rhino bones, rhino skin, bear glands, pangolin shells and deer horns have also been seized by the paramilitary forces off and on in the last few years in Chandel. To check smuggling of animal parts to Myanmar, a full-fledged branch office of the Centre-run Wildlife Crime Bureau (WCB) is being opened at Moreh town.

Meanwhile, 29 AR personnel also apprehended a Myanmarese national in the same district on Sunday for not possessing valid documents. The troops found a fake Indian driving license, a mobile phone, sim cards and currencies of India, Myanmar and Thailand as well as 11 visiting cards of foreign nationals on the individual, identified as Myintoo (38) of Kyan Tong, Shan.