Police in the southern Indian city of Mangalore have arrested four traffickers and seized ambergris, or whale vomit, worth nearly $300,000.
The men were arrested in the coastal city of Karnataka state as they attempted to sell the substance, which is banned by the government under the country’s Wildlife Protection Act.
Ambergris, also known as “floating gold”, is a solid, waxy substance found in the intestines of endangered sperm whales.
It is used for potions and traditional medicines and to stabilize the smell of fine perfumes thanks to its musky notes.
The substance is banned in many countries because sperm whales are a protected species and any possession or trade in their by-products is illegal.
Police raided a tip and seized 2.2 kilograms of the substance.
The accused allegedly obtained it from a man in Kerala, said Hariram Shanker, police commissioner for law and order.
“Mangalore is a place where international trade is done by boat and secondly it is a center of perfumery. Whale vomit is used to make expensive perfumes and these men came here to sell the ambergris,” Mr Shanker said. The National.
“According to wildlife authorities, the market value of one kilogram of ambergris is 1 crore rupees ($133,164). These men are being arrested for offenses without bail and could face five to seven years if convicted,” Shanker said.
This is the second time this month that the municipal police have seized ambergris. On February 8, six people with 3.4 kg of ambergris were arrested.
Updated: February 17, 2022, 12:03 p.m.