Forests officials have prevented smuggling of at least 12 endangered turtles at the Kathjodi river mouth near Anlatunga village in Byalish Mouza on outskirts of Cuttack District, Odisha on Wednesday. According to officials, they found these turtles packed in a sack stacked over one another and they were being illegally transported to Kolkata. These narrow-headed soft shell turtle also known as Chitra Indica are protected under schedule II category of Wildlife Protection Act 1972
Soon after getting the information of turtles being smuggled to Kolkata, forests officials started checking the nearby regions and identified some poachers, however, the poachers escaped leaving behind the sack full of endangered turtle species. After opening the sack, officials found at least 12 turtles that were in good condition. For better care and protection, these turtles have been sent to Nandankanan Zoological Park, said P K Mishra Bhubaneswar city divisional forest officer.
Mishra further added that the poachers were taking turtles to Kolkata where they would have sell them at a very high price due to very high demand for its meat. One kg of Chitra Indica sells for Rs 300 to Rs 400 and every title in the sack was at least ten kg. Case has been registered for the smuggling of endangered species and investigation has started.
Endangered species are being smuggled since very long and smugglers have set up a large racket and to stop and protect these species forests department needs active participation of local people along with the police.
Moreover, Indian narrow-headed softshell turtle (Chitra indica) also known as small-headed softshell turtle is an endangered species of softshell turtle found in rivers of South Asia. It is very large and feeds on fish, frogs, crustaceans and molluscs, which it ambushes. In the past it was included in Chitra chitra; a species restricted to Southeast Asia using current taxonomy