A box of Star Tortoise seized by Chennai Customs at Chennai Harbour

Alert custom officials in Chennai have once again successful and prevented smuggling of Star Tortoise which are in great demand in international market. The officials from Chennai Customs Sea Port?s preventive wing seized 490 Indian star tortoises. When officials were patrolling, they saw two abandoned thermocol boxes in the Kasimedu fishing yard. On opening they found that the boxes contained 490 Indian star tortoises meant to be sent to Kuala Lumpur. The star tortoises were seized and handed over to the Forest Department officials. These were about to be smuggled out of Chennai Harbour on Wednesday night, according to a press release.

Higly placed sources in Chennai custom revealed that these tortoises were to be smuggled through air cargo, Chennai in the guise of Mud Crab through Thai Air Cargo and were destined for Kuala Lumpur. Interestingly, the police who were on a wild chase of two suspected ganja peddlers, found the thermocol boxes abandoned. The two jumped into sea and escaped.

As per custom departments? press release, the tortoises are traded for food, used in traditional medicines and also kept as exotic pets. They are in great demand in international market and command premium prices. Consumer demand is growing among middle-classes of countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. Malaysia is a major hub of growing illegal wildlife trade as the country?s law does not allow effective implementation of the CITES.

It maybe noted that earlier in 2017, 210 Indian Star tortoises which were destined for Bangkok were seized by Chennai Airport customs.

A senior most official on the condition of anonymity said ?There are various smuggling activities which generate handsome revenues for smugglers are on the Radar of ChennaiCustoms. We are keeping round the clock vigil on illegal activities and have expanded our informer?s network, through which we get first hand information on illegal activities. Due to all these efforts many smuggling attempts were tracked and legal action has been taken. We will make sure that no illegal activities should take place at any point of time from Chennai Seaport and Airport?.   

Author : Sitaram Mewati - Award Winning Journalist

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