Forest department intensifies probe over Ambergris case

Our Correspondent

The forest range officer, who is investigating the case, has informed that some more people associated with the crime will be questioned in the coming days.


Kozhikode: The Kerala Forest Department has intensified probe after three were held with Ambergris on Friday, a substance found in the digestive system of sperm whales. The forest range officer, who is investigating the case, has informed that some more people associated with the crime will be questioned in the coming days. “More details cannot be disclosed now as it may affect investigation,” he added.

He also said that the sperm whales are found more often in our sea but a case like this is reported for the first time in Kerala. “The arrested received it from some other people. We will get the real owners of the Ambergris soon and by questioning them more details will come to light.”

It was also learned that the real owners of the Ambergris got it some weeks back. The three held over the case had contacted them to help in selling it. The Central Wild Life Crime Control Bureau had received information about their moves and arrested them in the pretext of buying it from them as potential Ambergris buyers.

The officials of the Department of Fisheries called for a thorough probe into the case. “This is a serious case. How they got it from the sea is a million-dollar question. Through serious probe, we will get to know whether they had killed the whale for getting it or they collected it while floating on the sea,” said an official from the Department of Fisheries on condition of anonymity.

On Friday, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) officials seized 18 kg of ambergris from Chettuva in Thrissur. The officials reported that the 18 kg ambergris will amount to Rs 30 crore in the international fragrance market.

Vadanappally native Rafeeq (47), Palayoor native Faisal (40) and Aluva native Hamsa (49) were arrested in connection with the case. Later, WCCB transferred the case to Pattikkad Forest Range Office and handed over the seized Ambergris too .

Ambergris has been in use for over a thousand years to make medicines and perfumes. A glue-like substance in it makes the aroma in perfumes last long.

The sperm whales mostly eat fishes like cuttle and squid. The hard spikes of these fishes would not get digested easily. When it comes in contact with the soft surface of intestine, a fat-like liquid is released. This liquid sticks all these substances together and the intestine absorbs water from it. This process makes it much harder. There are instances where the ambergris covers the intestine of sperm whales and it leads to the rupturing of intestine. It is produced by only one percent of the sperm whales. Due to this reason, Ambergris is so precious and valuable.

When Ambergris floats in seawater, the sunlight and salty water slightly transform it. In India, it costs around Rs 1 crore and trading and handling it is illegal.

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