Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh): A passenger was nabbed by officials of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) from Vijayawada Railway Station on Monday and 500 Indian star tortoises were rescued.
Based on specific intelligence that Indian star tortoises, a vulnerable species mentioned in Schedule IV to the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 were being transported illegally and are intended to be exported out of India, the officers of DRI, Vijayawada, launched an operation and intercepted the passenger travelling from Vijayawada to Ahmedabad in Navjeevan Express.
On questioning the contents of the luggage, the passenger admitted that Indian star tortoises of different sizes are concealed in the bags. On detail examination, a total of 500 Indian star tortoises were found.
The passenger admitted that the 500 Indian star tortoises found in his possession were collected by a person from Kadiri and asked to take the same to Ahmedabad and deliver to a person for export to different countries.
To ascertain the exact species of the tortoises, the services of officials of Andhra Pradesh, Forest department was sought.
During the course of the proceedings, the District Forest Officer, Krishna district, Vijayawada and the Forest Range Officer, Vijayawada Range inspected and certified that the tortoises are the Indian star tortoises with the scientific name ‘Geochelone elegans’.
The Veterinary Assistant Surgeon, government, Veterinary Dispensary, Vijayawada certified that all the 500 tortoises are in healthy condition.
The Indian star tortoises being declared ‘vulnerable’ by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and also protected under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and are listed in Schedule IV to the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 are prohibited for export under Foreign Trade Policy and the same are liable for confiscation under Customs Act, 1962.
The active assistance of Railway Protection Force, the Train Ticket Examiner and the Forest department officials of Andhra Pradesh has culminated into the seizure of the said tortoises.
Later, the officers of DRI handed over the seized Indian star tortoises to the Forest Range Officer, Vijayawada for safe custody and necessary action at their end.
The person involved in the illegal transport of Indian tortoises for export out of India has been arrested under the Customs Act, 1962. Further investigation is in progress. (ANI)