By Graham Land
Two Indian nationals have been arrested by customs officials at Kolkata’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International airport for trying to smuggle 10,043 live turtles en route from China to Singapore.
The exotic species of turtles were found in three suitcases belonging to two men. The bags were on the conveyor belt when another passenger noticed an “X” on one of them and alerted the authorities. (Personally, I wouldn’t have known that marking your bag with an “X” or cross is a sign of smuggling, but I’m not in the game.)
From the International Business Times:
"The two passengers have been detained on charges of smuggling wildlife. The baby turtles, about the size of a walnut, were identified as red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), which have a unique red or orange (rarely yellow) stripe behind each eye, according to US Geological Survey (USGS). These exotic turtles are native to Mexico, central, southern and western US. According to the Global Invasive Species Database, which is managed by the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, the Trachemys scripta elegans has been the most popular turtle to be used as a pet."
Some media sources have been reporting that the seized turtles are different varieties of sea turtles, all of which are classified as endangered. However, if they are in fact red sliders, the issues regarding their smuggling are different. Red sliders are popular pets around the world, but their trade is still strictly regulated in different countries and territories. They have established themselves as an invasive species in the UK and Australia. In the US the trade of eggs of all turtles is banned, as are turtles measuring under 100 mm (4”) in length, due to the risk of salmonella.
As the most popular pet water turtle, the red sliders are in demand in India, although it is believed that Kolkata is often used as a transit hub for the illegal trade in exotic species en route to other destinations in Asia. More....