Patna: 275 tortoises, including those of endangered species, were seized from a Kolkata-bound train here by the Government Railway Police (GRP) and one person has been arrested.
In an operation conducted at Bakhtiyarpur and Mokama stations, 275 tortoises, kept in seven luggage bags, were recovered from different compartments of the Upper India Express last night, Rail SP Prakash Nath Mishra said.
The arrested person was identified as Raj Lal, a resident of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
“Lal is a wildlife smuggler. He has confessed of procuring the tortoises from nomadic Kanjar people in a village near Amethi. We have also identified three others who are working in nexus with him. An FIR has been lodged against all of them,” Mishra said.
Lal had boarded the train at Varanasi and was going to Kolkata to deliver the tortoises to some traders. “These animals are in demand for medicinal purposes in East Asian countries and elsewhere. The seized tortoises have green shells which are used in medicines. Many also buy and use them as delicacies,” the SP said.
The GRP has handed over the creatures to the state wildlife authorities so they could be kept alive. Patna Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Gopal Singh said there were four different species in the seized ones.
Two of them ‘Chitra Indica’ and ‘Kachua Tecta’ were endangered. The DFO said the tortoises would be kept at Eco Park in the state capital for some time and would be released in rivers or lakes according to their adaptability.
“There seems to be a spurt in tortoise and turtle trade. People are smuggling it for their meat and medicinal value. We received a seized consignment of tortoises a couple of weeks ago also,” Singh said.
Among the seized tortoises, one is of around 7 kilograms while others weigh around 500 grams. Trade of such creatures is prohibited according to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, he said.