Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Mumbai unit in a joint operation with WCCB & Forest Department has seized 523 star tortoise from one train passenger at the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Railway station on September 6. The lady accused who was travelling from Puttaparthi, in Andhra Pradesh to Kurla Terminus has been apprehended. It is suspected that the tortoises were to be sold to a pet trader in Mumbai.
The tortoises have been identified as the Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelene elegans), a vulnerable species and included in the Appendix II of the CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species).
The Indian star tortoises are trafficked and smuggled as a part of the exotic pet trade and are highly priced, both in local and international markets. The turtles have been transfered to the forest department for further investigation.
The Wildlife Department has been requested to pursue that the tortoises are rehabilitated in their natural habitat at the earliest.
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