Turtles, terrapins seized at Raichur market

Bangladesh refugees responsible for thriving illegal meat trade

Turtles, terrapins seized  at Raichur market

Forest officials on Tuesday raided a marketplace at Sindhanur in Raichur district and confiscated nearly 50 turtles and terrapins from wildlife traders. The illegal traders, all Bangladeshi refugees, however, escaped.

Santosh Martin, honorary wildlife warden, Bellary, who stumbled upon the open sale of turtles and terrapins some time ago, informed Dipak Sarmah, principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) and chief wildlife warden, about the thriving illegal business.

Following a tip-off, Martin camped in Raichur for a several weeks, gathering evidence, including photographs, and passed them on to the forest department.

Based on the information and the PCCF’s nod, Radha Devi, the CCF of Gulbarga, and Chakrapani, the divisional forest officer at Raichur, sent plainclothed forest officials and had the market raided. Several gunny bags of turtles and terrapins were seized.

Suspects escape

The turtles and terrapins are in the possession of the DFO Raichur and will be released into the river after an inquiry.

“When we raided the market, people swarmed us  to help the traders who managed to escape. But we have their identification and photographs. We will catch them,” Devi told Deccan Herald.

Seasoned poachers

Some members of the Bengali camp are notorious for crimes against endangered animals.

The camp, comprising mainly  of Bangladeshi refugees (rehabilitated after the 1971 Indo-Pak War) and situated near the Tungabhadra river, has several poachers who are experts in catching turtles and terrapins.

The market opens at around 5 pm where turtles and terrapins are sold at Rs 100 a kg.

The Indian black turtle, which was seized on Monday, is a near-threatened species and is listed in Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Act.

The Indian flap-shell turtle is protected under Schedule 4 of the Act.

Officials said the critically endangered giant soft-shelled turtles, some of which weighs up to 200 kg, have been hunted to the point of extinction for its meat.

According to Martin, freshwater smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) too is being sold at the market.

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