Kolkata: Border Security Force (BSF) personnel have seized 185 rare Asian black spotted turtles, worth Rs.1.11 crore in the international market, in Kalanchi in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district while they were being smuggled to Bangladesh.
Following a specific intelligence input, BSF personnel from Kalanchi border outpost laid an ambush Thursday and challenged two persons moving suspiciously towards Bangladesh with two big cloth bags.
The duo dropped the bags and fled towards Bangladesh taking advantage of the fog and the dark, a BSF release said.
The BSF personnel searched the area and found the turtles inside the bags. This is the largest seizure of rare Asian black spotted turtles in recent times.
"The BSF authorities immediately informed forest department officials as well as Bangaon customs office. The seized turtles have been handed over to the forest department through the customs office at Bangaon", the release said.
The Indian black spotted turtle is a medium-sized freshwater turtle from South Asia. Despite its common name, the colour of this attractive turtle varies hugely with the rigid upper shell, or 'carapace', ranging from reddish to dark brown or black, often with three yellowish ridges running along its length.
These turtles are also known as Bengal black turtle, black pond turtle, Burmese black turtle, Cochin black turtle, Parker's black turtle, Sri Lanka black turtle.
The species is threatened as its meat is considered a delicacy in many areas, while it is also kept as a pet.
The species is highly endangered in Bangladesh and Myanmar.
It fetches more than USD 2,000 each in South-East Asian markets.