Trawler raid nets 41 sharks The consignment of dead sharks Jaws of a macabre kind was played out at the chief judicial magistrate’s court in Alipore on Thursday afternoon. A stench hung heavier than the humid May air as a bleeding truck, carrying the carcasses of 41 sharks, pulled into the court compound. Till they were covered by a black polythene sheet, the remains of the sharks, with mouths forced open, provided horrible evidence of wildlife violation.
The consignment of rare sharks was headed for some prominent city hotels and restaurants — or to Southeast Asian markets — when intercepted at Namkhana. Fourteen people were arrested in this connection.
“The sharks were caught in the Saptamukhi and Hatania Doania rivers of the Sunderbans,” said Subhendu Banerjee, divisional forest officer, South 24-Parganas.
They were put into the trawler FB Bumba and taken to Namkhana jetty.
“It is illegal under the Wildlife Protection Act to catch these sharks,” said Banerjee, referring to the haul of Tiger Shark, Arrow-headed Hammerhead Shark, Ganges Shark, and White-Spotted Shovelnose Guitarfish (a highly endangered species). They varied between 1.05 m and 2.55 m, weighing anything from 40 kg to 120 kg.
Acting on a tip-off, the forest officials laid a trap and conducted a raid on trawler FB Bumba late on Wednesday. “None of the sharks was alive when our men retrieved them,” admitted a forest official.
According to Banerjee, the demand for sharks rises significantly during the festive and marriage seasons. They also find a big market in countries like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Most of the 41 sharks netted in the Wednesday night raid would be buried, while the rarest species would be preserved at the Eco-Interpretation System of Bhagawatpur, in the Sunderbans.
Calcutta Telegraph – Calcutta,India