Lucknow: Three poachers, including two women, have been arrested with over 400 tortoises in Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh, police said Wednesday.
The three were nabbed Tuesday night from the Howrah-Amritsar train following an operation by the Government Railway Police (GRP).
"Acting on a tip-off, we held the three poachers who were on their way to Kolkata for handing over the sacks containing tortoises to their clients," GRP inspector Indra Dev told reporters in Jaunpur, some 250 km from Lucknow.
"Preliminary investigations indicate the three worked for a West Bengal-based poaching racket and have been involved in supplying of animal hides, skins, antlers to their clients in various states of the country for the last six years," he added.
Police are yet to establish where from the three brought the tortoises.
"They are giving contradictory statements in this regard. Several tortoises seized from the three were alive and handed over to forest officials, who are assisting us in the probe," said Dev.
India has banned the trade of tortoises under the 1972 Wildlife Protection Act but the huge premium and lax laws are increasingly luring poachers to the trade.
Tortoises are killed for their meat and are used in preparation of some medicines, officials said.