Railway police rescue 150 star tortoises concealed inside a suitcase
Railway police rescued 150 star tortoises, concealed inside a suitcase, at Chennai Central on Tuesday. RPF sources say at around 10 30 PM, an unidentified man, believed to be in his 20’s, entered the station carrying a suitcase.
RPF personnel, who were on baggage scanner duty, detected live movement inside the suitcase. Upon suspicion, they called out the man who then immediately fled away from the spot.
The suitcase was detained and Government Railway Police (GRP) and the platform inspector was called in. Upon a joint inspection of the suitcase, they found three cloth bags inside. The star tortoises were found hidden inside the bags. They immediately alerted the forest range officer in Velachery, and subsequently handed over the tiny exotic species. « Such instances of smuggling tortoises is common in Chennai Airport. But, this is perhaps the first incident at the railway station in recent times, » a RPF inspector said.
Commonly found in the dry and scrub forests of the country, the illegal poaching and smuggling of these tortoises has been rampant. Although they are listed under the ‘least concern’ category by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the demand for tortoises is high, especially in South Asian countries.
In July this year, customs and wildlife crime control bureau (WCCB) officials seized 500 live tortoises, meant for smuggling into Malaysia, at Chennai International Airport.