360 tortoises seized in Bengal
Kolkata: The Border Security Force (BSF) has seized 360 Indian Star Tortoises worth over Rs.two crore from West Bengal`s North 24 Parganas district, while they were being smuggled to Bangladesh, an official said Monday.
They were seized Sunday from Gunrajpur border outpost in North 24 Parganas by the troopers of the BSF 40th battalion.
"Noticing movement of a suspicious person carrying two small haversacks and going towards Bangladesh, the troopers challenged him. While the man managed to flee by jumping into a river, the tortoises were recovered on checking the haversacks," said a BSF spokesperson.
Traded for food and used in traditional medicine, the Indian Star Tortoise is in great demand in the international market and commands premium price.
The animal is protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which bans its possession and transfer in any form for commercial usage. It is also protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, of which India is a signatory.
The rescued tortoises have been handed over to forest officials.
The BSF had seized 952 such tortoises in September 2013.
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