Forest officials arrest man smuggling tortoise

Acting on a tip-off, forest officials arrested a man who was said to be illegally transporting star tortoises early on Friday morning. (DH Photo)

Acting on a tip-off, forest officials arrested a man who was said to be illegally transporting star tortoises early on Friday morning. 

The suspect, identified as Sundaraju (28), was arrested soon after he alighted from a bus a short distance from the Madiwala police station near the Silk Board Junction around 1 am. The police were acting on a lead, from TRAFFIC, a wildlife monitoring NGO. 

Nizamuddin, forest ranger for KR Puram, explained that Sundaraju appeared visibly nervous as soon as he stepped off the bus. “He went and stood some distance from the bus, holding a bag,” Nizamuddin said.

The forest ranger added that Sundaraju had to be coaxed back where he was promptly arrested by forest officials, working in association with the Criminal Investigation Department’s (CID) forest cell. In the bag were 32-star tortoises, a species listed as vulnerable in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) database. 

“If the reptiles had not been seized, some of them would have been channelled into the illegal pet trade. Others would be killed for their blood due to a baseless belief that it has curative properties. Their shells would also be sold as ‘vastu’ trinkets,” a source in the forest department said.

Law enforcement officials said they were trying to elicit details of the criminal smuggling network from Sundaraju, but he had little information to offer.

“He claims to not have any information about who gave him the bag. He does not even know who his contact in Bengaluru was. He was expecting a call from an unknown individual, who was to direct him to the drop-off point,” Nizamuddin said.

The animals, described as being in shock, have been moved to the forest department’s Wildlife Rescue Centre at Bannerghatta. They will be returned to their natural habitat.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)