Wildlife smuggler caught with flapshell turtle in Uttarakhand, booked

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The Uttarakhand forest department has arrested a 36-year-old man on charges of smuggling Indian flapshell turtle in US Nagar district, said forest officials.

Himanshu Bagri, divisional forest officer (DFO) Terai West forest division, said, “We had received a tip-off that one wildlife smuggler was planning to sell a flapshell turtle.”

“So we decided to arrest him. We were waiting for the smuggler for a week but he was not coming. Finally, when we came to know that the smuggler had come to Kashipur on Saturday evening, we constituted a team under the leadership of AK Saxena, Kashipur Ranger officer to catch him,” he said.

The Indian flapshell turtle, also called Lissemys punctata, is a freshwater species of turtle found commonly in lakes and rivers across the Indian subcontinent.

Bagri said the forest team finally arrested the smuggler from Kundeshwari road in Kashipur in US Nagar on Saturday evening.

“He has been identified as Sanjit Kumar, resident of Kashipur in US Nagar. We have booked him under Section 9 (prohibition hunting, no person shall hunt any wildlife listed in schedule 1,2,3,4) of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.”

Bagri said that Indian flap shell turtle is found in freshwater ponds, rivers and drains and its meat is considered a delicacy.

This is not the first time when turtles and tortoises have been recovered in the state. Turtles are killed for their meat and are in good demand in some areas of US Nagar like Dineshpur, Transit camp and Shaktifarm.

In May last year, forest officials arrested 40-year-old Abdul Rauf in Jhirna range of Corbett tiger reserve and recovered a dead turtle from his possession. In August last year, three people were arrested by the city patrolling unit of police at Rudrapur in Udham Singh Nagar district and 14 tortoises were recovered from their possession. In December last year, police had recovered 40 turtles from a man in Dineshpur area of US Nagar. The accused had kept the turtles hidden in a polybag in his kitchen.

Earlier in March last year, 25 turtles were recovered from the same village hidden in the bathroom of a house.

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