Wildlife officials release smuggled turtles in Uttar Pradesh
Etawah (Uttar Pradesh), Jan 8: Wildlife officials in Uttar Pradesh released over 1600 endangered turtles today, which were being smuggled to West Bengal for consumption and trade.
The turtles were seized here from poachers, who were taking the consignment in jute sacks to West Bengal.
Police have arrested six persons in the case while two managed to flee. The arrested men have been booked under stringent anti-poaching and wildlife Laws.
"We surrounded the place where the accused were staying. We have recovered 34 sacks with 1654 live turtles and five sacks with dried turtle skins weighing 38 kilos. They are sold for a heavy price in the international market and retail for 10,000 rupees per kilo. The skin is used in medicines and other things," said O.P.S. Dhaka, a Police official.
Water bodies and rivers in Etawah are among the major breeding grounds of turtles.
"The trade in these turtles begins in winter in Etawah and continues till March. The people who collect them from rivers and other water bodies, do so for their skin and even for live trade. In winters, trade is usually for live turtles while in summer, it is for their skins," said Rajeev Chauhan, General Secretary of Society for Conservation of Nature, after releasing the turtles to Chambal River.
The Government has banned their trade under the 1972 Wildlife Protection Act, but the huge profit margins and tax laws have allowed poachers to rule the roost.
Thousands of fresh water turtles are caught every year for food. The worth of the turtles in international market was not immediately known. Each turtle weighed about two to two and a half kilograms, and was meant for consumption. Their flesh is considered a delicacy in eastern India.
They are also smuggled out of India to buyers, who use them to make medicines and tourist souvenirs.
According to studies, only one out of every 1,000 hatchlings normally reaches adulthood.
The reptiles are mangled by fishing trawler propellers, or suffocated in fishermen's gill nets. They are also killed by pollution, and by poachers, who hunt them for their meat.
"That's the direction in which the world should progress according to me - the direction in which we finally become freed from the label of country and become global citizens. Instead of being global citizens then - we become the same thing we started out with - being humans."