Ambergris Legal in India

Investigative authorities across India, who recently seized Ambra, estimate its value at Rs 1 to 2 billion per kilogram, depending on its purity and quality. Ambergris, which means ambergris in English, is a waxy substance that comes from the digestive system of protected sperm whales. Although it is mistakenly called “whale vomit, one of the theories about its origin suggests that it is produced in the gastrointestinal tract of some sperm whales for the passage of hard and sharp objects that are ingested when the whale eats large amounts of marine animals. Amber is said to be transmitted as feces and has a very strong fecal odor in combination with a strong sea smell. Freshly exuded amber is a slightly yellowish and oily substance, but as it ages, it becomes waxy and becomes reddish brownish, sometimes with shades of gray and black, reaching a sweet, earthy and sweet smell, but always with notes of sweet sea smell. The forestry authority brought the amber to the city`s Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) to confirm it. Sources said a kg of amber used to make perfumes costs about ₹ a crore in the international market. However, the sale is prohibited by law in India as the sperm whale is an endangered species protected by the Wildlife Protection Act. Six seizures of Ambra in Mumbai and Thane last month highlighted the obscure but lucrative trade in this waxy substance, sometimes described as whale vomiting and sometimes as a walkot. Before that, there had only been two such seizures recently, once in 2019 and before that in 2018. Although there is a ban on the possession and trade of amber in countries like the United States, Australia and India, it is a tradable product in several other countries, although with restrictions in some of them. In the Indian context, sperm whales are a protected species under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act and the possession or trade of by-products, including ambergris and its by-products, is illegal under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. It has been observed that gangs smuggling ambra acquire coastal areas and ship them to destination countries via other countries with which India has comparatively less strict maritime trade.

An official from Unit X of Mumbai`s criminal wing, which was involved in three seizures last month with the forestry department, said one of the arrested defendants told them that in February and March, nearly a few tons of ambra were dropped in India at various locations along the east and west coasts outside the country. And it`s small parts of that amber that make their way across the country. “We are not sure of the accuracy of the information, but we are trying to verify it,” the official told Indian Express. Spermaceti (pot oil), from which the whale takes its name, was a main target of the whaling industry and was sought after for use in oil lamps, lubricants and candles. Ambra, a solid waxy waste sometimes present in its digestive system, is still very popular in perfumes, among others. Beach thieves keep an eye on amber like flotsam. [12] Whaling was an important industry in the 19th century, described in the novel Moby-Dick. The species is protected by the moratorium of the International Whaling Commission and is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The criminal division of the Pimpri Chinchwad police arrested two people and seized about 550 grams of ambra, estimated by investigators on the illegal market at Rs 1.1 billion. Both detainees are from Nashik and one of them was arrested when he brought Ambra to Pune in search of a potential buyer. The police, who were working on a pipe, caught the man with the help of a decoy customer. In August this year, the Pune Division of the Forest Department arrested six people and snatched three kilograms of amber from them.

Several actions were carried out by investigative authorities across India, including in Mumbai, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where much larger quantities of amber were seized. A piece of Ambra can be seen among the exhibits during a press preview of the “London: Port City” exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands on October 21, 2021. Image of the midi file. An agent from the Thane Crime Branch who made one of the seizures said the defendants in their case had been trying to sell the amber for a long time, but had not found any buyers. Deputy Forest Conservator (Thane) Gajendra Hire, who has been involved in several seizures, said it was possible that due to the impact of the lockdown and the resulting flight restrictions, international amber smuggling was affected. According to reports, 1 kg of ambra is sold on the international market for 1 crore – the reason for this is that only sperm whales produce amber, the compound responsible for the origin of ambra. An inspector from the Mumbai Crime Branch (Unit III), who was also involved in a seizure, said that in recent years, a lot of information about Ambra has been available online, including on YouTube.