6,430 Turtles Rescued by Indian Police in Country’s Biggest Wildlife Trafficking Bust

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There were more than 6,000 turtles rescued by the police on Jan. 10, 2017 at Utter Pradish. According to the Indian Police, the smugglers were planning to take the turtles to Southeast Asia. This is the biggest wildlife trafficking haul that the officers have encountered so far.

Flapshell turtles rescued in Utter Pradish

According to the Sun Daily, 6,430 flapshell turtles were en route to Kolkota. The poachers had been planning to smuggle the animals to Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Singapore. Arvind Chaturvedi, who led the UP Special Task Force, realized that this was the country’s biggest wildlife bust in history, in terms of weight and number.

He said that the poachers had gathered 4.4 tons of flapshell turtles, which filled half of the truck. Chaturvedi also said that they were able to capture the ringleader and were looking to make further arrests.

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The turtles are currently staying at the Turtle Survival Alliance sanctuary. The turtles were stuffed in 140 bags and were discovered by the police on Tuesday in Uttar Pradesh. The area is home to 14 endangered species of turtles. Arunima Singh from the TSA told the Daily Mail that 20,000 of these turtles are illegally sold offshore every year.

The flapshell turtles are the most common turtles in India, but the decreasing numbers have started to alarm the authorities. The Indian flapshell turtle is known locally as Sundari. They are native to India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Turtle meat and shell are popular delicacies and medicine in Asia

The turtles are highly prized in many Asian countries for their meat and shells. The meat is considered an aphrodisiac and the shell is used in traditional medicine. The smugglers can earn 1,000 – 8,000 rupees ($14 – $117) for each flapshell or softshell turtle, depending on the shell and meat conditions.

According to Rachna Tiwari, who works at the local TSA center, there has been a lot of improvement in the laws that protect the wildlife. Although poaching has gotten bigger in the past few years, the task force for rescuing smuggled animals has also gotten better.

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