Member of wildlife poaching racket held in Lakhimpur Kheri, 155 turtles recovered

Published on Nov 29, 2022 10:04 PM IST

According to the STF communication, accused Dixit, a native of Gopalganj, was held from Nighasan-Dakrawa Road in Lakhimpur Kheri.

As many as 20,000 turtles are smuggled from U.P. every year.as many as 20,000 turtles are smuggled from U.P. every year, said an STF official (HT Photo)
As many as 20,000 turtles are smuggled from U.P. every year.as many as 20,000 turtles are smuggled from U.P. every year, said an STF official (HT Photo)

Lucknow: A Bihar resident, identified as Neeraj Dixit, was arrested by Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) in the Lakhimpur Kheri district on Monday night for his alleged involvement with an international wildlife smuggling racket. The STF also recovered 155 turtles from his possession.

According to the STF communication, accused Dixit, a native of Gopalganj, was held from Nighasan-Dakrawa Road in Lakhimpur Kheri. At the time, he was going to hand over the turtles to another person linked to the poaching racket. Dixit worked as a carrier for the gang, as per the STF press release. He transported wildlife from one place to another. After being taken into custody, authorities are interrogating him about others members of the gang.

Speaking on the arrest, a senior STF official said that as many as 20,000 turtles are smuggled from U.P. every year. The indiscriminate hunting and smuggling of the creatures have prompted the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau to issue an alert. Members of several such gangs prowl turtle habitats in the Ganga, Yamuna, Chambal, Ghaghra, Sharda, Ken, Betwa, and Rapti river basins, added the official.

“The turtle smuggling network in the country extends from U.P. to Bihar, and from West Bengal to Assam. Kolkata has emerged as the main transit point for such smugglers, with turtles being illegally shipped to Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, and other south-east Asian countries from its shores,” said the official while adding, “There is a huge demand for Indian turtles in the international market for three reasons — meat, its feng shui connection, and production of aphrodisiacs”.

According to officials, the turtle smugglers’ network comprises local fishermen who trap turtles, ‘collectors’ who buy the reptiles from them, ‘couriers’ who transport them to transit points, and ‘traders’ who ship the consignments to south-east Asian countries. They said the turtle hunting season reaches its peak in the post-monsoon months of September and October. Between November and January, turtles are transported to Kolkata from local hideouts.

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