Turtles seized, one man held in Siliguri
The Bengal forest department on Wednesday seized 15 turtles from a bus and arrested one man who was allegedly carrying the animals for sale in Siliguri for the meat.
The seizure and the arrest were made by the Sarugara range of the Baikunthapur forest division after receiving a tipoff.
“The foresters had information that some turtles were being illegally transported to Siliguri in a bus that had departed Gangarampur (in South Dinajpur district). Accordingly, the bus was stopped at Matigara (on the outskirts of Siliguri) and the turtles were seized. The animals were kept in a sack,” assistant divisional forest officer Jayanta Mandal said.
The animals are of three different species — Ganges softshell turtle, peacock softshell turtle and Indian softshell turtle.
The peacock softshell turtle and the Indian softshell turtle are labelled as endangered in the red data book of threatened species published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The foresters caught Bhaban Sarkar, a resident of Gangarampur, who was illegally carrying the turtles.
“The initial probe has revealed that the turtles had been smuggled from Bihar to Gangarampur. The animals were then being taken to Siliguri and were supposed to be sold illegally for the meat,” an officer said.
Sarkar was produced in the additional chief judicial magistrate’s court in Siliguri and remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.