The Government Railway Police (GRP) has seized 97 rare Indian flapshell turtles, locally known as ‘Sundari turtles’, here while they were being smuggled from Azamgarh to West Bengal, officials said on Monday.
The seizure was made on Sunday at a platform of the Ballia railway station, the GRP officials said, adding that three people — two from West Bengal and one from UP — were arrested in this connection.
GRP Inspector VK Singh said the Sundari turles were kept in a sack by some people, who tried to flee the spot after as the police approached them.
Those arrested included Baki Mandal and Mahendra Pratap Shah from West Bengal and Hemant from Uttar Pradesh’s Ambedkarnagar district.
During interrogation, the trio told police that they were taking the consignment from Azamgarh to West Bengal.
The species is protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.
Indian flapshell turtles, assessed for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species in 2018, are listed as ”vulnerable”.
According to police, they are trafficked for their meat in West Bengal and other states with a belief that its consumption increases sexual prowess.