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Updated December 22nd, 2023 at 00:04 IST

Exotic fishes worth Rs 4.5 crore seized in Assam's biggest ever exotic fish seizure

Divisional Forest Officer BV Sandeep revealed that the 'Channa Barca' fish, listed in Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act, is a rare species endemic to th

Isha Bhandari
Channa Barca fish
Channa Barca fish | Image:Shutterstock
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Assam: In a significant operation, Assam forest department officials successfully intercepted a smuggling attempt involving over 500 'Channa Barca' fish valued at Rs 4.5 crore at Dibrugarh airport. The endangered fish, locally known as 'Cheng garka,' was destined for Kolkata, but forest personnel acted swiftly on a tip-off.

Divisional Forest Officer BV Sandeep revealed that the 'Channa Barca' fish, listed in Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act, is a rare species endemic to the Upper Brahmaputra river basin in northeastern India and Bangladesh. 

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had classified it as critically endangered in Bangladesh back in 2014.

The forest personnel seized the consignment and apprehended the vehicle's driver responsible for transporting the protected fish. 

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Sandeep emphasized that the seized 'Channa Barca' fish would be released back into their natural habitat in the river, ensuring their conservation and preventing further decline in their population.

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma speaks on the seizure 

Informing about the seizure, Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma wrote on Twitter, "In a successful anti-smuggling operation carried out by @assamforest- 500 Channa Barca fishes have been seized at Dibrugarh Airport". These rare species of fish are valued at ₹4.5 crore in the international market & is one of the biggest exotic fish seizures in recent times."

Range officer Pankaj Bora has informed that the investigation is still on and they are examining the seizure. "We are examining the confiscated fish. There are approximately 700 fishes identified as Channa Barca. They were caught in Tinsukia district as per the accused who have been nabbed," he said.

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It may be mentioned that most of these fishes are exported for ornamental purposes meant to be kept in aquariums. The species Channa Barca is a banned species in Assam and also in some other countries as it is known to be an invasive species. 

The seizure made on Thursday also raises concern as it was being smuggled by air. Forest officials also suspect the involvement of some international racket behind this smuggling network.

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With inputs Anirudha Bhakat

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Published December 22nd, 2023 at 00:04 IST

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