Men arrested for trying to smuggle 260 endangered turtles across India

·2-min read

Police in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh arrested at least three people allegedly involved in the illicit trafficking of 258 endangered turtles.

In a statement, the Special Task Force (STF) said they had been working in collaboration with the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, which led to the arrests of Ravindra Kumar, Arman Ahmad and Saurabh Kashyap from UP’s Indiranagar.

“We got a tip-off sometime last week that some traffickers are going to illegally trade the turtles from Sultanpur and bring them to Lucknow,” Deepak Singh, the deputy superintendent of police with UP STF told The Independent.

The police recovered 176 Indian roofed turtles, 60 Indian tent turtles, 19 crowned river turtles and four Indian eyed turtles, the department said. Of the turtles recovered, only one was injured, while the rest were released back into the wild.

The officials suspect the accused were a part of an international trafficking ring.

In their press release, the police claim that one, Kumar, confessed to being involved in the trade for the past few years. He allegedly told the police that he used to buy turtles from fishermen then sell them at a much higher price.

All the accused are in custody.

The turtle trade is illegal in India. They are protected under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and their international trade is further regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to which India has been a signatory since 1976.

But despite the high level of protection, turtles continue to be in demand for their meat and as a pet, say officials.

“Since it is the season when turtles reproduce a lot, those involved in their trafficking are particularly active in the region,” said Singh.

“Smaller the turtle, greater the demand, higher the price. And since they have high endurance, it is easy to carry them from one place to another without much problem. Most of them survive long journey without food and water.”

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