The state Forest Department on Thursday started the process of sending 63 turtles, recovered during various actions, to Assam, where they will be released into their natural habitat. These turtles, protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, were ‘airlifted’ from Pune.
According to the Forest Department, 55 turtles at the Indian Herpetological Society, Katraj and eight turtles at the Rescue Chartitable Trust, Bavdhan are being taken to Guwahati by flight. They would be handed over to the Turtle Survival Alliance and the Assam Forest Department.
“The Assam Forest Department will ensure that these turtles are released into their natural habitat safely. This is the first time that the state Forest Department sent turtles by air to their natural habitat,” said Deputy Conservator of Forest Rahul Patil.
The officer said the 63 turtles taken by flight included “Indian Roof Turtles, Crowned River Turtles, Brown Roof Turtles and Spotted River Terrapin”.
Forest officials said these turtles were recovered in cases of smuggling and during arrests of persons who wanted to sell the protected species illegally.
Earlier, on June 29, a team of Forest Department had laid a trap near Mankar chowk in Wakad and arrested two persons who were allegedly involved in the illegal sale of turtles. During searches, two dead and one live turtle were recovered from their possession.