Forty freshwater turtles seized

Kendrapara: Forest personnel have seized 40 live freshwater turtles near forest areas of Lunimathia village under Mahakalpada forest range in Kendrapara district.

The seizure was made while the reptiles, which were accorded protected status, were being smuggled out on Tuesday.

The retrieved animals weighed at over 50 kg. The man who was smuggling out the animals managed to evade arrest as he slipped into the forest during the raid. Search is on to arrest the absconding person, Bijoy Kumar Parida, Forest Range Officer, said.

A similar seizure had taken place from Mahakalpada area three months back with the smuggler being arrested then by the forest officials. The seizure has brought under sharp focus the commercial trade of these endangered animals.

The number of freshwater turtle is sharply dwindling as these delicate species are being caught live and smuggled out mostly to major urban places of the state and Kolkata.

As the freshwater turtles are accorded protected status and are bracketed as schedule-1 aquatic species under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, killing it or catching it live for commercial trade is a non-bailable offence, forest officials said.