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One lion cub, 3 rare langurs rescued in city; 3 arrested

One lion cub, 3 rare langurs rescued in city; 3 arrested

Kolkata: The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and the state Forest department officials conducted a joint raid on Belghoria-Expressway late on Friday night and rescued a lion cub and three rare white-headed langurs.

The officials of the two agencies had specific information that some animals might be smuggled in a car along the Belghoria-Expressway in the wee hours on Saturday. They intercepted an SUV and spotted the animals which were being transported inside some sacks. Three persons identified as — Wasim Rahman (29), Wajid Ali (36) and Md. Gulam Gaus (27) have been arrested on the charges of smuggling the animals.

Among the three langurs, one was a baby langur. According to the preliminary investigation, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau officials suspect that the animals were being brought from Bangladesh through the Indo-Bangladesh border in North 24-Parganas and the smugglers had an intention to take them to the Western part of the country. In the face of interrogation, the men revealed that they were on their way to Dhulagarh check-post to deliver the animals to another individual.

The animals have been initially shifted to Salt Lake rescue centre. They will be sent to the Alipore Zoo hospital later in the day for further health check-ups. The white-headed langur is a critically endangered species and one the rarest primates in Asia. It was learnt that the lion cub had some injury marks on its legs. The WCCB officials also suspect that the animals were kept in an unhealthy atmosphere and hence a detailed check-up is necessary before being

rehabilitated. They are looking into the modus operandi. Preliminary investigation suggests that the arrested persons are the carriers who were assigned to hand over the animals to some other persons.

In November 2017, a lion cub was caught in Bangladesh's Jessore before it was brought to India. The officials from the WCCB and the state Forest department are jointly conducting a detailed probe into the incident. They are trying to know the names of the other persons involved in the crime. They are trying to also know if the arrested persons are a part of any international animal smuggling racket. The exact role of the accused persons is yet to be ascertained.

As the animals were being transported inside sacks, the officials are examining their health condition.

They are also investigating as to where the smugglers were bringing the animals from.

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