…Bhutanese truck seized at India-Bhutan Gate exposes dark underbelly of peacock feather trafficking
A Bhutanese truck loaded with peacock feathers was seized by the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) battalion, revealing potential involvement in the illicit trade of peacock feathers from India to Bhutan at the India-Bhutan Gate on November 2. According to Surash, an Indian customs official at the Indo-Bhutan custom clearance, suspicions arose when the driver failed to provide necessary documents for customs clearance.
Upon reaching the India-Bhutan gate, the SSB intercepted the truck, and subsequent investigations revealed the cargo loaded with peacock feathers. The apprehended truck was promptly handed over to the Jaigaon customs office for a thorough inquiry.
Surash said, “The truck was partially filled with peacock feathers and was shielded with plastic. The truck remains under our custody, and as of now, no party has stepped forward to claim ownership.”
Regarding penalties, Surash said, “Upon the owner’s visit to the customs office, a resolution will be reached in accordance with existing Indian laws and regulations. The peacock feathers, being illegal possessions, will be confiscated, while the truck can be reclaimed. The fines imposed will be determined based on applicable laws, taking into account factors such as the quantity of peacock feathers and other relevant considerations.”
He emphasized that no action can be taken until the owner personally claims the truck. Additionally, contact cannot be established, as the individual is not a resident of this country. The responsible party must appear in person to inquire about and retrieve the truck.
Jigme, an officer in charge of Chhukha dzongkhag, said, “The incident occurred in a different jurisdiction, namely Jaigaon, and thus, it falls under the jurisdiction of India. Our involvement in this matter is limited. Since the incident occurred in India, any penalties and subsequent actions will be handled in accordance with their respective laws and regulations.”
Meanwhile, the truck owner could not be contacted.
In India, the peacock holds historical significance as an ancient symbol of mystique and beauty. The male Indian Peafowl’s tail feathers, with iridescent shades, carry cultural importance as religious symbols and decorative elements.
Additionally, these feathers find applications in traditional medicine.
According to Surash, Indian Customs official, the peacock is designated as the National Bird of India, the Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) receives the highest level of protection under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, listed in Schedule-1. Unfortunately, there has been a notable increase in peacock mortality due to poaching, primarily driven by the demand for their feathers in the market. The poaching activities target these birds to fulfill the substantial market demand for their plumage.
This concerning trend has prompted a robust advocacy effort for peafowl protection, gaining considerable support from various quarters, including animal rights advocates, conservationists, and those with patriotic concerns. The cross-border interception of the Bhutanese truck highlights the collaborative efforts needed to address the challenges posed by illegal wildlife trade.