KOLKATA: Twenty-one rare tortoises were seized by BSF troops while they were being smuggled across the Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal, officials said on Thursday. The incident happened on Wednesday when a Border Security Force (BSF) patrol near the Kalanchi border out post in the North 24 Parganas district detected some suspicious movements.
When a group of about four people was challenged by the force personnel, the suspects threw away the bags they were carrying and later 21 ‘Star’ tortoises were recovered from them, the officials said.
The rare tortoise variety (Geochelone Elegans) is notified as secure under the ‘Wildlife Protection Act’ and the global ‘Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species’ (CITES).
The Indian variety grows upto 30cm across the carapace and it is smuggled primarily to be used as food or for traditional medicines in Asia and North America. “The estimated value of the seized tortoises is about Rs 12.6 lakh,” a senior BSF officer said, PTI reports.