A 29-year-old man was arrested with 20 Indian tent turtles near Crawford Market on Friday. The accused, Bilal Shaikh, was going to sell the turtles when he was caught by officials from the Maharashtra Forest Department and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB).
Indian tent turtles, also known as roofed turtles, are endemic to the northern states and parts of Bangladesh. They get their name from the visible roof-like shape at the top of their shells. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified them as a species of least concern, meaning their population is not yet endangered.
The WCCB set a trap after they received intelligence regarding the sale of turtles in South Mumbai. Shaikh was arrested with a cotton bag, inside which officials found twenty juvenile turtles. Shaikh was booked for smuggling and produced before a court Friday, which remanded him to the custody of the forest department until Sunday.
A forest department official said they are investigating where Shaikh acquired the turtles from and to whom he was selling them. “A medical examination has shown that the turtles are in good health. We will seek the court’s permission to release them into their natural habitat,” the official added.
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