By R. Chetan
It is worth more than its weight in gold and has masked body odours of the affluent for years, but a duo who hoped to make a killing by selling 'musk pods' are now cooling their heels in jail. In a joint operation by CID forest cell sleuths and Hebbagodi police, seven 'musk pods' of the musk deer (moschus moschiferus) — popularly known as 'Kasturi' — were seized.
A tip-off alerted police to the deal pertaining to the rare wildlife product and a trap was laid on Friday resulting in the arrest of two persons who have been identified as Muniraja, a resident of Anekal near Electronics City, and Kumara, a resident of Srinagar near Gavipuram.
"They were in possession of the pods and were negotiating to sell them for huge amounts," M Hanumatha Raju, sub-inspector, Hebbagodi police station told Bangalore Mirror. "Acting on credible information, we nabbed them near Huskur gate. Sale of wildlife products is prohibited. The two have been arrested and an investigation is on."
Musk, a reddish brown, waxy substance is secreted by glands around the genitals of the male musk deer. The yield per animal is about 28 grams and each pod could sell for lakhs of rupees. Musk deer are hunted and killed for the pods which are sun dried once taken off the animal.
The Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 lists musk deer as one of most endangered species. The two arrested on Friday have been booked under various sections of the Act. If the offences are proved, the duo may be jailed for a term up to six years, a forest official said.
Friday's seizure has also alarmed forest officials and the police since it's one of the biggest hauls. Police are now investigating how the two came into possession of the pods and whether they are part of a bigger gang. Police are also trying to find out if the deer were killed in the forests of Karnataka or Tamil Nadu. "There have been such seizures in past, but they have always been only one or two pods," a police official said. "Seven at one time is alarming," a source told Bangalore Mirror.