Thursday, August 19, 2021

2,247 endangered Indian star tortoises seized at Chennai airport as smuggling bid is foiled

New Delhi: Over 2,000 Indian star tortoises being smuggled to Thailand were seized by the Chennai airport customs authorities Monday. 

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and airport customs authorities said the seized tortoises have been handed over to the Tamil Nadu Forest Department for rehabilitation, ANI reported. 

The star tortoise, set apart by the intricate pattern on its shell and favoured as a pet in some countries, is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, and listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an agreement between governments that aims to ensure the international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species. 

Appendix I of CITES lists “species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants”. “They are threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species except when the purpose of the import is not commercial, for instance for scientific research,” it adds. 

In a press release issued Tuesday, the commissioner of customs for Chennai Air Cargo said the export consignment that contained the tortoises was intercepted at Meenambakkam air cargo shed on the basis of intelligence. 

19/08/21 Bismee Taskin/Print

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