Kochi: Three persons, hailing from Andrott and Amini Islands of Lakshadweep, were arrested by a team of forest officials in connection with the sale of whale ambergris worth over Rs 1.4 crore.
They were arrested from a private lodge at Vyttila in Kochi on Wednesday while trying to sell 1.4 kg of Ambergris (1 Kg of Black Ambergris and 400 Grams of White Ambergris), sources said on Thursday.
Following a tip-off, a team of forest officials from Lakshadweep was deputed to Kochi to nab the smugglers with the help of the Kerala Forest Department and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB).
In July 2021, for the first time in Kerala, the vigilance wing of Kerala Forest Department had seized Ambergris, also known as whale vomit, weighing 19 kg and worth more than Rs 30 crore in the International market from Chettuva in Thrissur district.
The Flying Squad of the Vigilance wing seized the substance, also known as ‘floating gold’ during a raid.
The Flying Squad of Thrissur, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and the staff of Pattikkad Forest Range office have jointly conducted the raid on a tip-off that Ambergris, a wax-like substance found in the digestive system of a few sperm whales, was selling in the black market.
Ambergris, which is sought after by perfume manufacturers for its unique smell, is formed from a secretion of the bile duct in the intestines of the sperm whale and can be found floating on the sea or washed up on coastlines. It is sometimes found in the abdomens of dead sperm whales.
It may be noted that it is a punishable crime to hunt sperm whales under the Wildlife Protection Act in India as sperm whales are listed as an endangered species.