In a joint operation by Mumbai Police and Forest officials on Wednesday, two persons were arrested while they were trying to sell extremely rare whale vomit (Ambergris) worth over Rs 17 million in the grey market.
The arrested have been identified as Rahul Tupare (53) from Nagpur and Lalit Vyas (44) from Gujarat.
The duo has been slapped with charges of the Wildlife Protection Act, besides the Indian Penal Code.
Tupare was nabbed on Saturday from Vikhroli suburb in north-east Mumbai, with a little over a 1,000 gms of whale vomit.
During interrogation, he revealed the name of his accomplice Vyas, who was also picked up from Mumbai.
Vyas had allegedly given the whale vomit to Tupare for sale.
It may be mentioned here that this arrest comes barely nine months after the Thane Police arrested three persons with whale vomit worth Rs 20 million. The arrested men claimed to have found the substance floating in the Arabian Sea, off Ratnagiri coast.
Whale vomit or ambergris is described as a wax that originates in the intestinal secretion of the highly endangered Sperm Whale and is often found floating in the high seas.
Often described as ‘floating gold’, it is used for manufacturing expensive perfumes, cosmetics, oils, and some use it for superstitious beliefs that it attracts wealth in a short time.
A controlled substance in India, white vomit is in great demand in several countries, including the Middle-East.
Though it is occasionally found in nature, police do not rule out the possibility of some miscreants even killing a Sperm Whale to acquire it.
Found almost all over the world and living at depths of around 1,000 metres underwater, Sperm Whales are listed as an ‘vulnerable’ species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Switzerland.