Hyderabad: The officials of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on Tuesday seized 405 Indian Star Tortoise which were being illegally transported to be smuggled out of India.
Based on specific intelligence that Indian Star Tortoise, a vulnerable species / endangered species and mentioned in the Schedule IV to the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 were being illegally transported and meant to be taken out of India, the officers from Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI),
Vijayawada launched an operation and intercepted two lady passengers travelling by Train No. 15906 Vivek Express from Dibrugarh to Kanyakumari in general compartment on Tuesday at about 7.50 am in Vijayawada Railway station, Andhra Pradesh .
On search of the four bags belonging to the passengers, the officers found certain used clothes and personal effects on the top of all the four bags. Below them there were some sacks made of used cloths in all the four bags. The passengers admitted that in the sacks there were Indian Star Tortoises of different sizes.
A total of 406 Indian Star Tortoises of different sizes were found in the four bags. To ascertain the exact nature of the tortoises, the services of the officials of forest department was sought.
During the course of the proceedings, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Wild Life Division, Eluru came along with his staff to inspect and certify the exact nature of the tortoises. On inspection of the tortoises, the forest official confirmed the same to be Indian Star Tortoises and stated their zoological name to be (Geochelone elegans’.
The forest official further stated that the Indian Star Tortoises were declared ‘vulnerable’ by ‘IUCN’ – International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The two lady passengers admitted that the 406 Indian Star Tortoises found in their possession was collected by a person from Kadiri and they were asked to take the same to Bhubaneswar and hand it over to some person for export out of India to Bangladesh.
However, apprehending arrest by police they started back to Kadiri along with the Indian Star Tortoise.
The Indian Star Tortoises are protected under ‘CITES’ – Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, declared ‘vulnerable’ by ‘IUCN’ – International Union for Conservation of Nature and are listed in Schedule IV to the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 therefore, and prohibited for export under Foreign Trade Policy and the same are liable for confiscation under Customs Act,1962.
Accordingly, the officers of DRI have seized the said 406 Indian Star Tortoise under Customs Act, 1962 with the active assistance from Railway Protection Force and the Forest department officials of Andhra Pradesh.
The officers of DRI then handed over the seized Indian Star Tortoises totally numbering 406 to Forest Range Officer, Vijayawada for safe custody and further necessary action at their end. Two persons involved in the illegal transport of Indian tortoises for export to Bangladesh have been apprehended. Further investigation is in progress. (INN)