By Pierrot Durand
Custom Air Intelligence Unit at Kolkata airport has seized more than 10,000 turtles on Thursday. The turtles belonged to 43 exotic varieties and seized from two Chennai residents who were arrived from China via Singapore.
The multi-million trade in exotic pet wildlife pets supports the fancy of exotic pet owners, revealed the investigation. The two arrested smugglers were illegally smuggling the turtles from Guangzhou (China) to Kolkata via Singapore.
The estimated market price of seized turtles is around Rs 60 lakh. The preliminary investigation has revealed that the racket has been smuggling the endangered species for the past few days through the same route.
A senior wildlife official has revealed that the rescued turtles have been taken to the centre of the wildlife wing of the West Bengal Forest Department in Salt Lake. More than 100 turtles died on the way to the centre.
The turtles are reported to belong to the red-eared terrapin species. According to the official, all the turtles are new born and the smugglers must have gathered the eggs in order to hatch them scientifically.
T S N Murthy is the head of Zoological Survey of India. He said, "The red-eared slider, a native of Southern America and Northern Mexico, is invasive. It can infect other species, which is why their export is banned in several countries".