1,700 endangered turtles seized in Bengal in back to back raids
Fish truck from Andhra Pradesh used as cover. The turtles were concealed under fish.
More than 1,700 Indian flapshelled turtles were seized in back to back raids in Bengal since Monday morning while these were being smuggled into the state from Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The raids resulted in the fourth seizure of endangered freshwater turtles in Bengal since October 2018.
In a joint operation, officers of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (Eastern Region) of the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change and West Bengal forest department on Tuesday intercepted a truck in the North 24 Parganas district and seized 1231 live and dead turtles that were being smuggled from Andhra Pradesh.
Agni Mitra, deputy director, WCCB (eastern region) said the turtles were concealed under fishes that are exported regularly from Andhra Pradesh. Sourav Das, driver of the truck, was arrested and an investigation has started.
The Indian flapshelled turtle is killed for its meat which is considered a delicacy in both Bengal and Bangladesh. Tuesday’ seizure was the biggest in Bengal in 12 months.
On Monday, WCCB and state forest department officers also intercepted a white sedan with Delhi registration number in East Burdwan district and found around 500 turtles in the trunk. The car was coming from Uttar Pradesh. The passengers, Alonkar Roy and Paritosh Roy, were arrested.
On January 15, West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department (CID) seized 689 live and dead turtles and arrested four men, all residents of Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh, when they disembarked from Doon Express at Durgapur station in West Burdwan district. The turtles were packed in 22 jute sacks.
On January 4, 83 turtles were seized from a market area in Swarupnagar, North 24 Parganas district.
In separate raids, two leopard skins were also recovered and seven people arrested since Friday evening from different parts of North Bengal where human-leopard conflicts are on the rise.
Sanjay Dutta, head of special forest task force, North Bengal on Sunday arrested five men and recovered a leopard skin from near Gajoldoba in Jalpaiguri district. The leopard was allegedly killed a week ago inside a tea garden in the Dooars.
On Friday, two men from Nepal were arrested and a leopard skin was recovered from them at Panitanki in Darjeeling district.
Dutta said, “Smuggling of leopard skins is on the rise and international gangs operating in India, Nepal and Bangladesh are active.”
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