Indian authorities have arrested three men in Baikunthapur Forest Division in the Darjeeling district for smuggling skins and bones.

“Those arrested belong to a nomadic tribe from Rajasthan and their agents are spread across the country. They move with bag and baggage and are skilled in concealing the animal remains,” Divisional Forest Officer Dhramdeo Rai, told The Hindu.

The men were transporting an otter skin and leopard skins and bones to China via Nepal, Rai added. They were using the same route smugglers have been using for the past few years to get to China, were demand for animal bones to use as medicine is extremely high.

“During interrogation, the three revealed that they had set up tents in the Oodlabari area in the district. The forest department along with local police conducted a search around the area with sniffer dogs and recovered leopard bones weighing around six kilograms.”

The father of one of the men was arrested last year for smuggling large quantities of pangolin scales and seahorse also destined for China.

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