Indore, Sep 26 (PTI) After recovering a large number of tree fossils kept on a government land, the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department suspects that smugglers are removing them from the Narmada valley in neighbouring Dhar district.
Forest Ranger Rajesh Chauhan today said, "It appears that the fossils seized on Sunday from a government land at Avral in Manawar tehsil were hidden there to avoid detection by government agencies. They were carefully hidden under a pile of wood."
Unidentified smugglers were apparently waiting for an opportunity to ship the cache elsewhere, Chauhan told PTI.
An organised gang was suspected to be involved in the smuggling, he said, adding that the seized fossils were sent to the National Dinosaur Fossil Park in Bagh area.
The Forest Department has started a drive to collect fossils scattered in the area so as to prevent their smuggling. It is also trying to create awareness among local people about this invaluable legacy, Chauhan said.
Vishal Verma, head of Mangal Panchayatan Council, an NGO which conducts research on fossils in the Narmada valley, claimed that the seized tree fossils are about seven crore years old.
"Fossils of aquatic creatures and dinosaurs are also found in Dhar district. They are under threat in the absence of government protection and lack of awareness among people," he said.
Smugglers from Maharashtra and Gujarat steal fossils and sell them in international markets at a high price, said Verma.
Three fossilised dinosaur eggs were stolen in 2014 from a museum near Mandu and haven't been recovered so far, he said, adding that there should be a separate law for protection of fossils.
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI