The Thane Forest Department has rescued over 60 turtles last week. Based on specific intelligence from Traffic India, Delhi, the department conducted search operations last week and made a couple of arrests. “We received intelligence from Delhi of a trading group on WhatsApp from Pune and based on that we arrested a woman,” said Jitendra Ramgaonkar, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Thane. From July 6, the department has conducted at least four operations at Bhandup, Thane, Nahur and Malad to apprehend people involved in the trade of protected animals.
“These are basically pet shop owners and they know it is illegal. We presented one of the accused in court on Friday and the court granted us his custody for four days. His interrogation would help us unearth the gang and catch others involved in the trade,” Ramgaonkar added. The officials have so far arrested six pet shop owners and sources add that more arrests were likely.
The department has rescued over 60 turtles from different parts of the city including 17 star turtles from Bhandup, 24 star turtles from Thane, 10 star turtles from Nahur and 14 turtles from Malad that included six exotic turtles. “We have taken permission from the court to find out the original habitat of these turtles and return them there. Some of them are not from our area and are from regions like Karnataka. After investigation we will return them to their rightful place,” he added.