1125 endangered tortoises seized from Vizag station, were to be smuggled to Bangladesh; three accused held

The endangered species, also known as 'Geochelone elegans' were being exported from India to Bangladesh.

1125 endangered tortoises seized from Vizag station, were to be smuggled to Bangladesh; three accused held

VISAKHAPATNAM: Officers from Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on Sunday seized 1,125 endangered India Star Tortoise from the Vizag Railway Station. The DRI arrested three people who later disclosed that the Tortoises were smuggled from Andhra Pradesh to be delivered to Bangladesh. 

A total of 1125 Indian Star Tortoises of different sizes were found from the possession of the accused.

According to a press release by DRI, the three accused were travelling from Vijayawada to Howrah and used five bags to transport the endangered tortoise. 

The accused revealed that the tortoises were collected by someone near Madanapalli, Andhra Pradesh and were given to them at a place called Chelur near Balegowdanahalli village in Karnataka. They were asked to take the same to Howrah and hand it over to some person who would further export them to Bangladesh.

To ascertain the exact nature of the tortoises, the services of the officials of the forest department was sought. Vizag's Divisional Forest Officer came along with his staff for inspection and confirmed the species to be 'Geochelone elegans'.

DRI officials have handed over the tortoise to Vizag's Forest Range Officer and further investigation is underway. 

The Indian Star Tortoises are protected under ‘CITES’ - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. They are declared ‘vulnerable’ by ‘IUCN’ – International Union for Conservation of Nature and are listed in Schedule IV to the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. The endangered species is prohibited for export under Foreign Trade Policy and the same are liable for confiscation under Customs Act,1962, the press release said.

Earlier on July 19, DRI seized six pieces of ivory weighing over 9 kg near a bus stand in Siliguri, West Bengal. 

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