A total of 468 endangered exotic animals, smuggled from neighbouring Myanmar, were seized by police and wildlife enforcement agencies in Mizoram, and five people arrested in this connection, officials said on Thursday.
Police said that acting on a tip off, exotic animal species, including 442 lizards, were seized at Chalbawia Junction, Khankawn Police Checkgate in Champhai district on Wednesday and handed over the animals along with five traffickers to Custom Preventive Force.
The seized animals also comprise four tortoises, 11 snakes, four sloths, two beavers, and a wild cat.
The five traffickers were arrested while they were trying to cross the river Tiau, which divides India and Myanmar, with several cages containing the animals.
On May 8, kangaroos, rats, meerkats, white cockatoos and Burmese pythons, – all exotic animals not indigenous to India – were seized after they were smuggled from Myanmar.
Police officials said Mizoram and other northeastern states, bordering Myanmar, have become an active route for smuggling of exotic animals and various drugs from South East Asian countries to mainland India. These animals are smuggled from countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar where there are exotic animal breeding farms.
There were instances that the exotic animals seized in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh smuggled from Myanmar and ferried through Mizoram to these states.
A police official also said most of the persons arrested with the smuggled animals were only carriers who were doing the illegal job for money.