In early April, residents of a forest village in eastern India had an unusual encounter. They came across three confused, weak and hungry animals. Worried, unaware of what they had to do, they alerted forest officials in West Bengal. They then learned that they were kangaroos.
The three animals were rescued and sent to a zoo for treatment. One of them died later. But how to explain that they found themselves there? Indeed, these animals are native to Australia and have no place in India. The videos quickly went viral in the country, raising questions from netizens.
West Benagl wildlife director Debal Ray said the kangaroos found by villagers were likely released into the wild during an anti-smuggling operation led by his team. He explains that he received information on the import of exotic animals into the state.
Quickly, Debal Ray had mobilized his team to control vehicles along one of the main access roads to the state of West Bengal. “The smugglers probably got wind of it, and left the animals on the highway“, Mr. Ray told the BBC.
“They probably came here from private breeding farms in Southeast Asia,” said Agni Mitra, deputy director of the Regional Bureau of Wildlife Control. According to her, smugglers often smuggle exotic animals through Burma into states bordering India. Besides kangaroos, other species would be imported, such as the golden-headed lion tamarin, an endangered primate found only in Brazil, or lemurs.