Jharkhand: 800 rescued tortoises released in Massanjore dam die

Jharkhand: 800 rescued tortoises released in Massanjore dam die

More than 800 fresh water tortoises that were rescued and released in the Massanjore dam have died, an official said on Thursday.

A team of forest officials have been sent to the dam after local residents reported that some of the tortoises have started dying, said Abhishekh Kumar, Dumka divisional forest officer.

On January 11, the Dumka police seized more than 4,000 tortoises from smugglers and handed them over to the forest department. The recovered tortoises were released in the dam to make them adaptable to the local conditions, he said.

“The cause of the deaths will be known after postmortems are conducted. The tortoises may have died due to transport stress.”

Vishnu Prasad Choudhary, Dumka town police station chief, said the tortoises were recovered from a West Bengal-bound truck after a tip-off that smugglers from Madhya Pradesh were transporting the endangered species.

The truck driver and his assistant managed to escape from the police station and police are trying to locate the owner of the truck, which bears a Haryana registration, he said.

“A case had been registered under the Wildlife (Prevention and Security) Act in this connection,” he said.

Forest and police officials suspect the tortoises were being smuggled from the muddy waters of the Chambal River or from western Uttar Pradesh.

Hundreds of tortoises started dying a day after they were released in the dam, said Kalicharan Tudu, a local resident, who informed the police about the tortoise deaths.

“I saw more than a thousand dead tortoises on the bank of the dam and more are still dying,” he said.