Guwahati zoo becomes home for rescued exotic animals

Six blue macaws and two capuchin monkeys from South America, three tortoises from Seychelles and a kangaroo from Australia were smuggled in from Myanmar

Non-Asian exotic animals rescued from cramped cages smuggled in from Myanmar have found a home — the Assam State Zoo-cum-Botanical Garden in Guwahati.

On November 6, Assam’s Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya and departmental officials released six blue or hyacinth macaws and two capuchin monkeys in the zoo that occupies 175 hectares in the city’s Hengerabari Reserve Forest.

The birds and monkeys are native to Central and South America. They were rescued in July from southern Assam’s Cachar district along with three Aldabra tortoises, one of the largest species from the Seychelles group of islands in the Indian Ocean off East Africa, and a kangaroo from Australia.

These animals were packed among crates of fruits in a truck that was loaded in Mizoram.

“The cages were specially built for these exotic animals belonging to a different corner of the world. We are keeping them under constant CCTV surveillance to find out if they are adapting to the conditions,” zoo’s Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Tejas Mariswamy said.

The kangaroo and the tortoises were being quarantined for 45 days and examined by experts for any foreign viruses they might carry. “Special enclosures are being made for them for possible release by November 20,” he said.

Mr. Suklabaidya said it was difficult to ascertain the origin of the rescued animals.

“We could not get much information from two people arrested when the truck carrying them was seized. We are still investigating where the animals came from and who they were to be delivered to,” he added.

Sunnydeo Chaudhary, Cachar’s DFO, said the exotic animals had been “sniffed out” from foul smell during a routine check of trucks near the Assam-Mizoram border.

The seizure of these animals, said to have been destined for Kolkata via Guwahati, came less than two years after sleuths of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence busted an international syndicate of exotic wildlife smugglers whose kingpin was based in Mizoram. That operation in October 2018 was carried out simultaneous in Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati and Mizoram’s capital Aizawl.

In March 2018, a large consignment of exotic animals, including venomous snakes and giant scorpions, was seized from a vehicle at Jorabat, about 19 km from Guwahati and on the Assam-Meghalaya border. The consignment had come from Aizawl and was to be sold to a pet trader in New Delhi.

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