The curious case of ‘kangaroos’ found in India

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At least five kangaroos have been recovered in the last 30 days in India. However, since the mammal is indigenous to Australia and New Guinea, their presence in the Indian subcontinent has raised concerns.

On 1 and 2 April, three kangaroos were rescued by wildlife authorities in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri, where they are believed to have been abandoned by smugglers from a deal gone sour. The animals were visibly hungry and sick and have since been sent to Bengal Safari Park for treatment. One kangaroo, a joey, was found dead.

The previous month, a kangaroo had been found in a goods vehicle in the neighbouring district of Alipurduar.

“We have initiated further investigation for ascertaining the whereabouts of these kangaroos, by whom and how they were brought into the forest, along with finding the cause behind bringing them,” said Sanjay Dutta, a ranger under the Baikunthupur forest division.

Raja Raut, the Secretary of Jalpaiguri Science and Nature Club, a reputed NGO working in the field of research and protection of flora and fauna in north Bengal, said it was not even clear if these were kangaroos at all.

“The first doubt is whether the animals recovered are kangaroos or wallabies. From the size of the animals recovered, it is more likely that they are wallabies,” he noted.

He explained that kangaroos are generally much larger in size and heavier than wallabies. They can be as tall as two metres (6 feet 5 inches) and their weight can be up to around 90 kgs. However, the height of the wallabies can go up to a maximum of one metre (3 feet) and their weight can be maximum up to 20 kgs, he said.

The second doubt, according to Raut, is the source of these animals recovered.

“We doubt that the origin of these recovered animals is any foreign country like Australia. Rather… that these animals are some certain illegal breeding farms for artificial insemination that are operating in some remote pockets of northeastern India, especially in Mizoram.

“Of late we have received information from fellow NGOs operating in the same field in the northeast that few such illegal breeding farms have started reproducing kangaroos or wallabies through artificial insemination.”

In parts of Asia, he added, the body parts of these animals are used towards the manufacturing of aphrodisiacs and many of the smuggling routes likely cross India.

According to environmentalist S Pandey, despite numerous reports of such horrific illegal breeding farms, there remains little evidence so far to substantiate these claims.

“I suggest a joint enquiry by all agencies concerned be started to crush this racket of wildlife smuggling,” he said.

Since the discovery of the sick kangaroos last week, a team of special officers have commenced an investigation into the shocking matter.

Compiled from various sources

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