Malkangiri: Three persons including one from Andhra Pradesh were arrested by Forest Department officials at Kalimela in Malkangiri district while they were transporting turtles in a pick-up van from bordering Andhra Pradesh.
Acting on a tip-off, a team of Forest personnel intercepted a van at MPV-60 village under Kalimela forest range area and seized around 1,400 freshwater turtles. The reptiles will be released in Balimela Reservoir tomorrow, officials said.
The accused are being interrogated for more information about the involvement of others in the business. The reptiles were transported from a depot in Kakinada of Andhra Pradesh to Malkangiri.
The turtles were being sent to traders in Malkangiri for sale as these animals are in high demand in the market, Forest officials said adding the arrested persons were booked under various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and further investigation is on.
Earlier, over 350 rare species of turtles, also smuggled from Andhra Pradesh, had been seized in Chitrakonda area of Malkangiri district in June, 2017.