CHENNAI: Forest officials in Vellore and other parts of the State are verifying the authenticity of an online claim by a pet trader promising tiger cubs for sale. A 24-year-old youth from Vellore was arrested on charges of trying to sell two tiger cubs online. The Forest Department is holding investigations into the youth and his friend about the whereabouts of the said tiger cubs.
The arrested youth identified as Parthiban had posted a message on his WhatsApp status about selling two tiger cubs and after receiving the tip off about the message, Forest officials in Vellore along with the Police, nabbed Parthiban.
It was found that Parthiban along with his friend, Tamizh, who runs a pet shop in Ambattur, was involved in selling pets and exotic animals. The duo had been visiting pet shows across the country and purchased rare species. The animal and bird species were sold online by both Parthiban and Tamizh. Following information, Forest Department officials took Tamizh under custody and are investigating. Tamizh had informed the officials that the message of selling tiger cubs was also posted in a WhatsApp group and the duo planned to sell two cubs for Rs 25 lakh.
However, the officials are yet to locate the tiger cubs as they were not found in the houses of Parthiban and Tamizh. The Forest Department is also investigating whether the message posted by them was fake and whether the duo had planned to con people in the name of tiger cubs.
“The sale of exotic pets has seen a sharp rise due to the smuggling of wildlife from other Asian countries and a few years ago a leopard cub was smuggled from Thailand. Similarly pythons are also regularly smuggled into Chennai. Pet trade is a menace and a serious threat to wildlife,” a senior wildlife official said. The official added that a few buyers are outside the State as growing these wildlife animals is not feasible due to the stringent monitoring of TN wildlife officials, but the possibility of Chennai being a transit hub for illegal wildlife trade cannot be ruled out, the official said.