India seizes third shipment of tiger parts on way to China

GUWAHATI, India — Indian customs officers Sunday seized the third shipment of tiger bones and other animal parts, worth 230,000 dollars and destined for use in traditional medicine in China.

Indian customs officers Sunday seized the third shipment of tiger bones and other animal parts that were headed to China

A customs official said the officers found tiger bones, skulls, and 125 kilogrammes of scales from pangolins, rare scaly mammals that are distant relatives of the anteater and a protected species in India.

“The animal products were estimated at about 10.66 million rupees if sold on the international black market,” customs superintendent S. Das told AFP.

Customs officials, acting on a tip-off, had also seized two other shipments at the international airport in the eastern city of Guwahati on Wednesday and Thursday.

In total, the raids netted contraband worth about 660,000 dollars.

On average, poachers kill 30 tigers every year in Indian reserves, with demand driven by China where pelts, claws and bones are prized in traditional medicine.

In 2008, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up a national wildlife crime prevention bureau, drawing experts from the police, environmental agencies and customs in a bid to break up the poaching network.

Tiger hunting is illegal worldwide and the trade in tiger parts is banned under a treaty binding 167 countries, including India.

There are estimated 1,400 tigers living in the wild in India, according to conservation group WWF.

In August of 2009, an Indian delegation in Beijing asked China for full co-operation for controlling cross-border trafficking of tiger parts and to send a clearer message to smugglers, but no official agreement was reached.

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Guwahati flooded, troopers deployed to rescue residents

GUWAHATI: Authorities on Tuesday deployed paramilitary troopers to carry out rescue operations in Assam’s main city of Guwahati hit by massive flooding, triggered by heavy rains since Sunday.

Troopers of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), using rubber boats and rafts, rescued more than 200 people from various city areas reeling under waist deep water.

“We have already rescued scores of people trapped inside homes filled with water, mud, and slush and we are on the lookout for more who could be desperately looking for help,” Anil Chauhan, NRDF commander, told IANS.

Heavy rains accompanied by cyclonic storm in the past two days crippled normal life in most parts of Assam, especially in the state’s main city of Guwahati with several areas submerged – the worst hit being Lachit Nagar, Rajgarh, Zoo Road, Nabin Nagar, Hengarabari, and G.S. Road areas.

Guwahati recorded 80.4 mm rainfall since Monday with forecast of more rain accompanied by thundershowers on Wednesday and Thursday.

“This is the worst ever flooding in the city in recent memory with rainwater flooding the better part of our ground floor,” said Nanda Das, a college teacher.

The situation has further compounded with mud and slush blocking the city’s drainage system.

“There is no outlet for the water to go and hence the artificial flooding caused,” a municipal corporation official said.

“We were unable to send our children to school, while we are running out of essentials as there is no way we can move out of our homes,” said Bimala Hazarika, a housewife.

The rafts used by the NDRF came as a succour to the marooned people with many residents venturing out of their homes to buy medicines and food.

“With more rains likely, the situation would further worsen,” Chauhan said.

From TOI