New Delhi: Smuggling, they say, is a continuous business along most international borders, especially in South Asia.
But there has been a marked change lately. Unlike the usual seizure of contraband smuggled items, fake currencies and other items across the international border, the BSF soldiers posted at the Hardaypur outpost in West Bengal has now got hold of 'smuggled' birds that are unique to Australia.
In fact, before due studies on the net and discussions with experts, little did the BSF officers and personnel realise that they had seized straw-necked Ibis.
"A troop of BSF jawans were manning the Indo-Bangladesh border when they spotted cartons and found the birds inside," reported 'Times of India'.
The smuggling of wildlife has always prevailed along the Indo-Bangladesh border, especially along with West Bengal.
But apparently, the frequency increased, perhaps due to increased crackdown on cattle smuggling and other items, including fake currency. The professional smugglers might have therefore turned to this wildlife and birds to make a fast buck.
Sources also say smuggling in these areas are linked to 'Jihadi' elements, and thus local support in both countries is quite well organised and deep.
The Border Security Force has often faced occupational limitations in states such as West Bengal, as their jurisdiction of operation was merely 15 km from the international border. Now, it has been changed BSF activities from the international border would henceforth be 50 km in West Bengal and the states of Assam and Punjab.
Sources say these new measures have helped a lot in fighting the smuggling menace, especially in West Bengal. The local police and administration have been requested to look into 'political patronage' at village and block levels.
In 2019, a consignment of some 250 African pygmy falcons, a bird species native to eastern and southern Africa, were seized. Such incidents were reported in 2020 during the peak of pandemic lockdown as well. In December 2020, 32 exotic birds were recovered by BSF personnel in North 24 Parganas. Similarly, about 75 such exotic birds were seized from wrongdoers in October 2020. Security agencies have alerted authorities that illegal wildlife trade has emerged as a form of organised and unorganised trans-national syndicated crime.
Sources said that the services of a little known government body, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, have also been enlisted.
In fact, the WCCB said in October 2020 that the BSF team posted at Tentulberia, South Bengal Frontier seized 54 Lorikeet birds of six rare varieties.
The WCCB also assisted in the identification and immediate care of the birds and handed them over to Alipore Zoo authorities in Kolkata. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is a statutory body under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and its mandate is to combat organised wildlife crime. It mainly functions under the powers provided by the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006.