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The crate flown in from Istanbul was filled with exotic creatures for collectors: tantalus and patas monkeys, golden and ring-necked pheasants, scores of parrots and several dozen pigeons.
The cargo quickly cleared customs and quarantine checks –thanks to a £4,400 bribe, say investigators – and was collected by a pair of local bird dealers in Kathmandu.
Squad - Police - Wildlife - Ring
Little did they know they were being observed by a special squad of Nepalese police investigating a major international wildlife smuggling ring.
For also inside the crate – stuffed into a secretive middle section – were two infant chimpanzees, cowering in fear after being ripped from their slaughtered families in an African forest.
Animals - Thousands - Miles - Lands - Risk
The traumatised animals had been transported thousands of miles from their native lands and were at risk of dying of suffocation. They could barely be detected hidden among the more humdrum birds and monkeys.
For these terrified chimps, barely a year old, suffering severe dehydration and shedding body weight inside their grim container, were prized assets in a barbaric global trade in great apes that is decimating the species.
Creatures - Collectors - Asia - Middle - East
Such creatures can be sold for up to £50,000 to wealthy collectors in Asia and the Middle East – but for each one seized from the wild, up to ten of our closest genetic cousins are killed by poachers to get the babies demanded by buyers.
The Central Bureau of Investigation team, acting on a tip-off from an informant, watched as the crate of creatures was taken to the nearby base of one of the dealers. There the dealers were joined by an Indian businessman and his assistant.
Police - Men - Suspicion - Clandestine - Deal
The police moved in and arrested the four men on suspicion of settling a clandestine deal to shift the animals to India, which shares open borders with Nepal.
One customs officer, suspected of being a central figure in the smuggling of rare species,...
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