New Delhi: A gang using the Orkut and other popular networking sites for illegal wildlife trade was busted in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut town, and threatened wildlife, including a rare albino civet, were seized alive.
Two gang members were arrested from the Lalkurti locality of the town and many threatened wildlife, including peacocks, parakeets and a rare albino civet cat were seized alive, officials said on Tuesday.
This may be the first case in the country linked with Internet wildlife trade, reports IANS.
Officials said members of the gang used the Orkut networking site for meeting new customers as well as to close deals with existing clients in the Middle East and Europe.
A team of Uttar Pradesh's special task force and the Forest Department conducted the raid, after Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), a non governmental organisation (NGO), alerted the officials.
"The accused was in the process of settling a deal on the civet cat for Rs 3 lakh with a customer in Dubai, but we surprised him with the raid," a WTI official said.
The civet cat may be the first albino common Indian civet ever recorded—a very rare species, he said.
Mahesh Chandra, wildlife warden of Meerut, said the accused have been sent to jail on Tuesday afternoon after being charged under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. The birds would be released after permission from the magistrate.
WTI Vice-chairman Ashok Kumar said, "The crackdown has exposed a huge illegal market for birds on the Internet. But there is more evidence now to further this investigation."
He said that NGOs in India as well as abroad have been urging their governments for implementing strict measures to stop the online wildlife trade.
International NGOs in the past even exposed websites where illegal ivory products had been displayed for sale, Kumar, adding the latest arrest may be the first case involving the Internet wildlife trade in the country.