KANPUR: Around 158 endangered turtles were rescued while being smuggled to other parts of the country, in Auraiya district on Wednesday.
A team of Ayana police and forest department officials seized pond turtles, packed in four jute sacks, from a loader at Muradganj area of the district on Wednesday. The breakthrough came after the vehicle in, which smugglers were transporting the turtles met with an accident near Muradganj area on Auraiya-Etawah National highway.
An officer said the loader was found stationed in an abandoned state by the road side. The district forest department of Etawah was informed and officials travelled to Auraiya to take charge of the reptiles.
"During search, nearly 158 turtles in four jute sacks were recovered. The spotted pond turtle is a protected species under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972," said district forest official Manik Chandra Yadav. The vehicle bearing registration number plate of Kanpur Dehat has been impounded and further investigations are underway, added a police official of Ayana police station. This is the first incident when such a huge consignment of spotted pond turtles has been seized in the region. According to wildlife activists, the consignment is worth several lakh in the grey market.
Officials said all 158 turtles were alive.