INDIA. Mumbai: The Thane unit of the Maharashtra Forest Department, recently seized a sperm whale vomit weighing nearly 27 kg worth Rs 26 crore in two separate raids in Mumbai and arrested five persons engaged in its clandestine sale.
The accused were identified as Rajesh Hargovind Mistry, a resident of Malad, Diwakar Shetty, a resident of Kandivali, Dadabhai Shankar Dhanvat, residing at Nerul in Navi Mumbai, Kirit Dullabhai Wadvana, residing at Vile Parle, and Sayyed H Babajan Simbagathulla, a resident of neighbouring Karnataka state.
Acting on a tip-off that two deals of ambergris, a waxy substance discharged by the sperm whale, to be conducted at different locations in the Western suburbs of Mumbai on July 8 and 10, the forest department officers sent a decoy customer to a spot near Ganesh Bhuvan, Daftari Road at Malad East in North Mumbai. No sooner the four persons arrived on the spot, the forest officers swooped on them and seized 8.2 kg ambergris. In another raid in Andheri in North West Mumbai, they nabbed one Sayyed H Babajan Simbagathulla who had come to Mumbai from neighbouring Karnataka with 18 kgs ambergris. The raid was conducted by the Forest Department along with Unit X of the Mumbai police.
The offences (No. Wl-01/2021-22 and WL-02/2021-22 10 July) were registered under sections 09, 39, 44,48, 48(A), 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, and the accused were sent to forest custody. The forest department and the Mumbai Police are tracking the origin of the Ambergris.
The ambergris is found floating deep-sea surfaces and is used for manufacturing premium perfume and certain aphrodisiacs. Due to its high value, it is also called ‘floating gold’, as it is sometimes found floating on water bodies. The sperm whale is a protected species as per the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and keeping the ambergris or any other thing related to such endangered class is considered illegal. The offence attracts rigorous imprisonment ranging from 3 years to 7 years.
The raids were conducted by Deputy Conservator of forest Gajendra Hire, Assistant Conservators of forests Girija Desai-Patil and Santosh Kank and Range Forest Officer (RFO) Prashant Deshmukh, and the staff of Mumbai police zone X.
RFO Prashant Deshmukh told the “Transcontinental Times” that at present 3-ton Ambergris is said to be circulation in India which fetches very high price also abroad. According to information, the ambergris is stated to have entered Mumbai via Karnataka.
Last week in a similar raid, the crime branch of Thane Police had seized Ambergris worth Rs 4 crore and had arrested Gabriel D Souza, Nandkumar Dacholkar, and Mangesh Jawale. Similarly, on June 07, the Mumbai police had arrested three persons with Ambergris worth Rs. 7.70 crore from Mulund in northeast Mumbai.
In Raigad in the Konkan region, there had been many instances of the seizure of Ambergris in the recent past. The Ambergris was also seized from different parts of India, including Kerala and Gujarat in the last few months. In the meanwhile, the Mumbai police are in the process of sending seized Ambergris for testing to a laboratory in Kolkata for authenticating the content seized.