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  Youth arrested for trying to sell star tortoises

Youth arrested for trying to sell star tortoises

Published : May 13, 2016, 1:55 am IST
Updated : May 13, 2016, 1:55 am IST

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) arrested a 24-year-old man near Chetna College in Bandra (east) on Wednesday for allegedly trying to sell star tortoises.

The rescued tortoises
 The rescued tortoises

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) arrested a 24-year-old man near Chetna College in Bandra (east) on Wednesday for allegedly trying to sell star tortoises. This species is endangered and its possession, transport, sale or its offer of sale is illegal.

Acting on a tip, the WCCB — lead by M. Maranko, regional head — monitored the movements of the suspect and intercepted him near the college around 8 pm on Wednesday. The accused, Soham Kale, was carrying a cloth bag in which he had concealed six live star tortoises. According to sources, the tortoises were bought from Crawford Market. “Kale would buy star tortoises from Crawford Market and then sell them at exorbitant prices to other illegal traders in the city,” said Rakesh Burman, a WCCB inspector. The accused along with the tortoises were produced before the Bandra court on Thursday, and he has been remanded to police custody till May 26. The accused is a resident of Malad (west). “Kale has not revealed any information about other tortoise dealers, but the probe is underway,” said Mr Burman. The rescued tortoises are recuperating under the WCCB’s care and will be reintroduced to their natural habitat soon.

Indian star tortoises are distinguished by the star-like pattern on their shells. It is because of this pattern they are favoured internationally as pets. The massive scale of illegal trade in these tortoises is leading to their extinction. While trading, minimal care is given to the welfare of the tortoises and few survive being thrown around in bags or being packed tightly in crates with no space to move or breathe. According to a report by the World Animal Protection, around 55,000 star tortoises are traded illegally from a single spot in India.