Hyderabad: A Hyderabad based animal smuggling racket has been caught in Uttar Pradesh.
Mohammed Arif, was caught by police and forest officials in Mirzapur. His two accomplices managed to escape. The three were trafficking five caracals (wild cat) and a leopard cat, which were meant for a private zoo near Charminar.
Arif has been identified as a resident of Kalapattar.
The protagonist is yet to be identified but is said to be from Hyderabad. It is suspected that Hyderabad and Bengaluru have several farm houses with zoos.
“Arif is yet to spill the beans totally. He tried to bluff that he was working for the government zoo in Rajendranagar,” said UP divisional forest officer K.K. Pandey over phone.
“The trio were sent from Hyderabad to Bihar and were returning to Hyderabad. Police during the process of checking stopped the Toyota Innova vehicle. They had painted the vehicle light brown to look dusty and also to conceal the number plate. Police found boxes and cages and wild animals in gunny bags. Immed-iately they informed us. We have taken custody of the animals and a case has been booked against them under the Wild Life Protection Act and sections of the Indian Penal Code,” he added.
Mr Pandey further added, “Usually for government zoos, there are permits. He was very inconsistent in his talk.”
“The animals were meant for a private zoo in Hyderabad. We suspect a big racket behind it. We haven’t sighted caracals, a rare species, for years in UP and MP. They are said to be from Bihar. None of the Indian zoos has these caracals. We are shifting them to a local zoo for treatment. If there is a male and female we will try to start a breeding programme after getting permission,” said UP principal chief conservator of forests Umendra Sharma.