Four men have been arrested after officers from the West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department stopped a truck in Paschim Bardhaman District on Tuesday 15 January 2019, following a tip off from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, and found 689 protected Indian Flapshelled Turtles, Lissemys punctata, in 22 jute sacks in the vehicle. The men had apparently travelled from Sultanpur District in Uttar Pradesh, where the Turtles had been trapped in streams and pools, and were taking them to Kolkata, where they were hoping to sell them, either for consumption locally or for export to Bangladesh of Southeast Asia, where they are also prised as a foodstuff. The Turtles are described as having been very week and distressed, and a number had died due to the conditions they were being kept in. The surviving turtles are being looked after by the Turtle Survival Alliance.
Police and rescue workers with Turtles confiscated from traffickers in West Bengal, India, on 15 January 2018. Turtle Survival Alliance.
Of the 24 species of Freshwater Turtles found in India over half are currently thought to be threatened globally due to Human activities, such as poaching or habitat destruction. The Indian Flapshell Turtle is widespread in South Asia, and not threatened across all of its range, but there is sufficient concern about the species that it has been placed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) at the request of Bangladesh, and conservation bodies in India request that people do not post location data publicly when reporting sightings on websites such as the India Biodiversity Portal, for fear that poachers may use the information.
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