The Thane Crime Branch on Friday arrested three persons and seized an adult Indian pangolin, an endangered mammal, valued at Rs 40 lakh in Thane, a police official said.
Acting on a tip-off, sleuths of the Crime Branch Unit 1 kept a vigil at Saket Bridge in the Rabodi area since Thursday night and nabbed the trio when they arrived to sell the pangolin, senior inspector Nitin Thakre said.
The rescued creature, weighing around 10kg and 92cm in length, is worth Rs 40 lakh, he said.
The trio was identified as Devji Namdeo Sawant (42), Sanjay Namdeo Bhosle (46) and Ramdas Padma Patil (56), all residents of the adjoining Raigad district, he said.
According to the police, the trio had come down to Thane for selling the animal to a customer.
Assistant police inspector Sandeep Bagul said the animal was captured from the coastal Konkan region and brought to the city for sale.
The police are trying to find out if there was a big gang behind the smuggling and sale of rare wildlife species, he said.
All three were booked under the relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Bagul said, adding further probe was underway.
On October 3, Crime Branch officials hadseized scales of pangolins, weighing around 6kg and valued at Rs 20 lakh, from three persons in the city, police had said. Pangolin scales are said to have medicinal usages.