Pune railway police seize 279 African tortoises, 1,207 reptiles, 230 fish from two
The officials of the Pune unit of Government railway police (GRP) found hundreds of tortoises, iguanas, and fish of African origin from two men travelling on an express train on Tuesday.
In three different duffle bags, the men were carrying 279 African spurred tortoise, 1,207 iguanas, and 230 beta fish, according to a statement issued by GRP.
The duo was caught by the GRP team led by police inspector Maula Sayyed during a routine patrol of Chennai express on Tuesday.
The two arrested men were identified as Tarunkumar Mohan (26), a resident of Lenin Nagar in Ambattur area of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and Srinivas Kamal (20), a resident of Ikrai road in Kolathur area of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, according to the police. Both the arrested men delivered packaged fish for a living.
The two have been handed over to the customs department officials for further investigation as they had no proof of having paid the custom fee for transport of the animals.
“When they seized these animals, we were informed, and a team of forest officials went there. We realised immediately that these are not Indian origin animals. So, we did not think it was appropriate to book them under the Wildlife Protection Act,” said Rahul Patil, district forest officer, Pune.
The tortoise species as well as iguana figure on the list of endangered species. They are used for ornamental and pet trade purpose in most circumstances, according to the forest official.
The animals have been moved to the RESQ charitable trust facility in Chandani chowk area of Bavdhan. The police handed over the animals to the facility where they were counted.
“The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, which covers endangered animals, has at least two of these three animals which were found with them. The beta fish is not in the list. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Convention also mentions them,” said DFO Patil.