These animals were found being illegally sold or kept in the captivity in various parts of the city.
Mumbai: The Thane forest department over the last two months has seized more than 100 turtles including exotic turtles. These animals were found being illegally sold or kept in the captivity in various parts of the city. The forest department is now mulling releasing the confiscated turtles into their natural habitat.
In July, the forest department conducted raids in Bhandup, Malad, Nahur and Vikhroli, where around 60 turtles were seized. The department stated that the raids were carried out after receiving a tip-off about the illegal trade from Traffic India, a wildlife watchdog organisation.
“Most of them were star turtles which are traded because of their beautiful appearance. In Malad, we had also found miscreants keeping exotic turtles. Since these star turtles are brought from states like Karnataka and West Bengal, we are trying to find out their natural habitat here to release them,” said Jitendra Ramgaonkar, deputy conservator of forest, Thane division.
The forest department convicted five persons under the Wildlife Protection Act in July alone. They are presently being tried in court. Star turtles are a protected species under schedule four of the Wildlife Protection Act and their trade, possession, sale or illegal transport attracts imprisonment up to three years.
According to officials, most of the turtles were collected from pet shops, despite the fact that sale of star turtles is illegal. As per wildlife experts, the star turtles are illegally sold for up to rs 1,500.