483 star tortoises seized at BIA

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483 star tortoises seized at BIA

Post  Admin on Tue May 15, 2012 9:07 am

The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Customs, seized about 483 live star tortoises (Geochelone elegans) being smuggled out of the country by an Indian national,

Intelligence officials stopped Meeran at the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) based on credible information that he would be smuggling them.

“Based on the tip-off, we stopped him as he was proceeding towards immigration counter after checking in his baggage. On examination of his check-in bag, we found live star tortoises concealed in gunny bags,” a source said.

Meeran was travelling to Bangkok by Thai Airways. The contraband was seized under the Customs Act, 1962, read with the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (as amended). No value could be attributed to the contraband, AIU officials said, adding that its ownership and sale is illegal.

Some Asian countries have a huge market for this, which lures many Indians to smuggling the animal. Each of them could fetch anything between $50 and $500.”

Star tortoise is protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (as amended), which bans its possession and transfer in any form for commercial use.

It is also protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), of which India is a signatory.

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