KOLKATA: About 5,000 Indian softshell turtles, listed vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, were seized on Monday from Bongaon on the Bangladesh border.
Additional principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Pradeep Vyas said most of the 4,980 seized turtles were alive. "Three persons have been arrested in this connection. The turtles were being sent to Bangladesh," he said, adding that they are suspecting that the consignment was meant for meat trade. Sources said the accused, Mahadeb Dey, Mithun Das and Sadhan Mondal, had procured the turtles from Vizag.
Local police intercepted the trio at Kalupur near Bongaon and later handed them over to the forest department. Forest officials said that the turtles would soon be released in any of the protected areas in the state. "But, we can't release them in salt water, since these are sweet water turtles," an official said.
Honorary wildlife warden of Kolkata Suchandra Kundu said awareness is the need of the hour to stop such illegal trade.