On Saturday, at Vishakapatnam railway station in Yashvantpur- Howrah Express around 4 p.m the officials of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) were seized 1,125 endangered Indian Star Tortoises from three passengers which were meant to be smuggled to Bangladesh.
DRI Vizag Regional Unit searched the passengers in Yashvantpur- Howrah Express and found the three passengers with the tortoises stuffed in cloth bags in coach S-7.
The passengers have boarded the train in Vijayawada and suppose to travel to West Bengal from where the tortoises were meant to be smuggled to Bangladesh.
During the search process, DRI official found the tortoises which have been packed in five bags and arrest the passengers.
The DRI officials roped in forest officials to examine the species and the Divisional Forest Officer of Vizag certified that the species belonged to Indian Star Tortoises (Geochelone elegans).
Indian Star Tortoises were categorized under ‘Vulnerable’ in the red list of endangered species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it and this species is also listed in the Schedule IV of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and prohibited from export under theForeign Trade Policy. These species legally answerable for seizure under the Customs Act, 1962.
The DRI communique said that the three passengers were admitted that the tortoises were given by a person at Chelur near Balegowdanahalli village in Karnataka saying that he had collected the species from Madanapalle in Chittoor district and the person told that to the passengers that the tortoises should be delivered to his co-conspirator in Howrah and from where the species would be exported to Bangladesh.
For safe custody and further action, the tortoises have been handed over to Forest Range Officer, Vizag.