Over 200 rare star tortoises were seized on Tuesday from Kalyan railway station in Thane district of Maharashtra. A father and son duo has been arrested. According to a Times Of India report, the Wildlife Control Bureau (WCCB) of Navi Mumbai along with forest department team seized the protected species of tortoise. The duo was travelling from Lokmanya Tilak Ernakulam Express train when the WCCB team arrested them.
The accused has been identified as Vijay Sageram (27) and his father Sageram (52). They were bringing these tortoises to Mumbai from their hometown in Bangalore to sell them. This species is endangered and its possession, transport, sale or its offer of sale is illegal.
According to a report in Hindustan Times, the accused were produced at a Kalyan magistrate court. The judge has directed WCCB to keep them in judicial custody till Thursday, after which they are to be produced in court again. Both the accused have been arrested earlier by the Karnataka forest department for a similar offence two years ago and were allowed to go on bail.
M Maranko, regional director, WCCB told HT, “We received a tip-off from our informer in Karnataka that the duo was travelling on a Bangalore-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus train, which would reach Mumbai by 2pm, and they would get off at Kalyan station. They were in a hurry to get out of the station. On checking their bags, we found the tortoises, stacked one on top of the other.”
“While the accused have already revealed a lot about the wildlife-trade nexus operating from Karnataka, we want to keep them in custody to track other consignments coming into MMR,” Maranko added.
Earlier, in May, PTI reported about 100 tortoises being seized from a man from Katihar railway junction who had boarded the train at Faizabad station in Uttar Pradesh. The man had to deliver these animals to a client at New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. In 2012, a businessman in Lokhandwala who kept rare species of tortoise as pet was fined Rs 25,000 before the Thane forest officers seized the animals.