Over 80 exotic reptiles have been reportedly rescued by the Central Forest Division, Manipur, and a person involved in wildlife smuggling has been arrested, offical sources said.
The People for Animals (PFA) said in a statement that the reptiles were rescued on November 11 from one Dayanand MJ, a non-resident of Manipur by the Central Forest Division. Several exotic reptiles for smuggling in the state were recovered from Dayanand, it said.
The rescued reptiles include more than 70 Iguanas, 8 Monitor Lizards (Tegu), and six Mangrove snakes.
After the rescue, the PFA assisted in shifting the animals to Green Zoological, Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, Jamnagar, Gujarat by road.
The Forest Division handed over the accused to the Custom Anti-Smuggling unit as the reptiles were considered exotic and does not come under the purview of the Wild Life Protection Act in countries like Argentina, Indonesia, Malaysia among others.
Subsequently, the Custom unit produced the accused before the JMFC, Imphal East court on the same day of his arrest.
While the accused was granted bail, the court ordered that the animals worth around Rs 1,40,000 should be kept at Zoological Garden, Iroishemba for their safety.
Customs unit superintendent Th Nilakanta handed over the animals to PFA on November 14.
PFA consulted reptile expert Anirban Chaudhuri from Kolkata on how to pet the exotic animals under their watch as the animals started dying due to the cold weather and lack of proper food.
A team of seven people, including a veterinary doctor and reptile curator from Gujarat, came to Thoubal, Manipur, and treated the animals for two days at the PFA shelter and took the animals to Gujarat by road on Monday.
The animal transportation programme was organised by the Customs, the Veterinary department, the Forest department, and the Central Zoo Authority of India with the help of MP Maneka Gandhi.