The Kerala forest department on Friday arrested three persons and seized 19 kg of ambergris, popularly known as whale vomit, from Chettuva in Thrissur district. The accused have been identified as Rafeeq and Faisal, originally from Thrissur itself, and Hamsa from Ernakulam.
Forest officials said the seized ambergris is worth ₹30 crore in the international market. They added a special team was tipped off about some people planning to sell ambergris in Kochi. A few forest officials approached the suspects as though they wanted to buy ambergris and then caught them. The three told officials they managed the source ambergris from some fishermen in Sri Lanka. A luxury vehicle in which the accused came was also seized, officials said.
Forest officials said whales come under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act and ambergris is considered as an “uncured trophy” of the largest mammal. It is illegal to possess or trade in any of its by-products in the country.