Gurugram wildlife dept rescues 23 turtles; one held
The Gurugram wildlife department rescued 23 turtles and arrested a man for allegedly trying to smuggle the protected reptile in to the city, said officials on Friday.
“We were earlier informed that a man was supplying turtles in Gurugram. This week, we got a tip that this man would be coming from Delhi, posing as a delivery executive. We arrested the suspect from MG Road on Wednesday and seized 23 turtles,” said Rajesh Chahal, Gurugram wildlife inspector.
“We are trying to find out from where he procured the turtles. From the information we collected so far, it seems that the suspect had been involved in the illegal trade for the past two years,” Chahal added.
An environmental court in Faridabad sent the man to 14-day judicial custody on Thursday, and a case was registered under relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act.
Officials said they rescued 13 spotted black terrapin turtles and 10 Indian tent turtles from the suspect, and later released them in the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary. Turtles are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Species that fall under Schedule 1 are given protection from poaching, trading and trafficking. If convicted, the man can face a minimum of three years in jail and a fine of up to ₹1 lakh.
They said that cases of illegal trade of turtles and tortoises in Gurugram is not common, and the last case was reported in January 2017. Three Indian star tortoises were seized from a private resort in Sohna.
Experts say that illegal turtle trading is usually reported from the Gangetic plains where the reptile is found, but they can also be found near freshwater lakes in the National Capital Region and Haryana.
Tito Joseph, programme manager, Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), said, “Turtle trafficking is a big issue, and such cases are mostly reported from states in the Gangetic plains, and occasionally from Delhi-NCR. People usually catch turtles from the freshwater lakes in this region and sell them in the local markets for consumption purposes.”
Turtles are also illegally sold as pets, they said.