Guwahati (Assam): Officials from Lakhimpur forest division, along with the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, have seized 42 bear gall bladders as well as leopard nails and suspected ‘tiger bones’ from Harmutty in Lakhimpur district.
Sarbat Pradhan and Ajit Saha of Harmutty were arrested from their homes, and will be produced in court.
Lakhimpur divisional forest officer B. Vasanthan said, “This is the first time bear bile has been seized from Assam.”
“A joint operation was carried at about 5.30am on Sunday, acting on an input from Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, at Harmutty by forest officials under Lakhimpur forest division and a team of Arunachal forest department, including the director of Pakke tiger reserve, Tana Tapi,” Vasanthan said.
He said the approximate market value of the seized material is Rs 50 lakh in international markets and said departmental procedure has been initiated.
A source said the seizure of 42 bear gall bladders accounts for the death of 42 bears. “This could be one of the biggest seizures of bear gall bladders in the country for its bile,” the source added.
“This is a huge number and both the persons are saying that these are all from Arunachal. More interrogation will have to be done to find out the modus operandi and where it was being taken,” the source said, adding that there was an organised gang behind this.
Bile is also known as gall and is a fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gall bladder, which aids in the digestion of liquids in the small intestine. Bear bile can either be sourced from a bear killed in the wild, or from a live bear kept in a bear farm.
A Traffic (wildlife trade monitoring network) South East Asia report on the bear bile trade in Asia says bear bile is used in traditional medicine and is historically documented. It is traditionally used to treat sore throats, sores, haemorrhoids, sprains, bruising, muscle ailments, epilepsy and to “clear” the liver. In addition to removing the intact gall bladder from a bear, there are four methods used to extract bile from living animals.
The report says illegal harvesting and trade of wild bears, their parts and derivatives, continue across Asia on a large scale, often openly violating national laws.