In its bid to check the smuggling of pangolins, Odisha government has announced cash reward for providing information about gang members involved in the trafficking of the mammal, an official said.
Pangolins have large, protective keratin scales covering their skin and they are the only known mammals with this feature.
The Forest Department has announced that people who provide information that help the wildlife officials to nab gang members would get a cash reward of Rs 10,000, the official said.
This apart, people sharing information on the existence of pangolin in their areas would also get a cash reward, the Forest department said in a public message.
The department officials have pasted such posters in different places in the Athagarh forest division in Cuttack district.
"We have announced a cash reward of Rs 10,000 for detailed information about the racket involved in the illegal trade on the pangolin. Besides, cash award will be given if anyone sights a pangolin in their area," Athagarh Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sasmita Lenka said.
The government's action came following the arrest of more than a dozen people and seizure of live pangolins. The interrogation of the arrested persons has revealed that about 20 gangs are actively engaged in the smuggling of pangolins across the state, the official said.
Athagarh DFO has said that 14 persons, two on Sunday, have been arrested on the charge of smuggling in pangolin. "We have collected information about the mode of smuggling of Pangolin from Odisha during the interrogation of the 12 accused," the DFO said.
Meanwhile, the members of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) have visited the state to probe pangolin smuggling.
It has come to the notice of the Forest officials that the racket involved in smuggling of pangolin use social media to make deals for the trade of this rare species inside the country and also outside.
Recently, the Forest department teams had recovered two live pangolins from a roadside eatery while they were about to be smuggled to Kolkata by train, an official said.
The official said there was a huge demand for pangolin abroad for its medicinal value. Also, the mammal's skin is being used for the manufacture of bullet-proof jackets.
The official said that the WCCB was currently probing pangolin smuggling in the state.