Andhra Pradesh

DRI seizes 500 star tortoises being smuggled to U.S., China

Star tortoises seized by DRI officials at Vijayawada railway station.  

In a major catch, officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Vijayawada unit, conducted a raid at Vijayawada railway station on Monday night and seized star tortoises in huge numbers.

The Indian Star Tortoises, declared vulnerable by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and also protected under Conservation on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), were being smuggled to the U.S. and other countries.

On a tip-off, DRI officials conducted raid on Navajeevan Express and took a passenger into custody, who was allegedly smuggling the tortoises in an AC coach. The suspected smuggler was transporting the star tortoises to Ahmedabad, the DRI sleuths said.

During questioning, the accused reportedly said that a mediator from Kadiri handed over the tortoises to him, and the investigation officers are trying to trace the origin of the racket.

“The accused confessed that the tortoises, which were in about 500, were concealed in luggage bags. The tortoises are smuggled to North America, Myanmar, China, Thailand and other countries,” an investigation officer told The Hindu.

Prohibited for export

Krishna District Forest Officer (DFO) V. Ramachandra Rao said that Indian Star Tortoises falls under Schedule IV of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. Tortoises are prohibited for export under Foreign Trade Policy and the same are liable for confiscation under Customs Act, 1962, Mr. Rao said.

The government veterinary surgeon, Vijayawada, examined the tortoises and certified that all the tortoises were in good health condition. The seized tortoises were 5 cm to 15 cm in size.

“We suspect that the star tortoises were collected from the natural habitats near Madanapalle and the neighbouring forests. We will shift the tortoises to Visakhapatnam zoo”, the DFO said.

Forest officials said that some people tame star tortoises with sentimental value in China, U.S. and other countries. In some countries, tortoises are being used for consumption and also for manufacturing drugs.

An investigation is under progress, the officials said.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 2:42:48 AM |

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