Sin­ga­pore re­turns 50 smug­gled In­dian tor­toises to K’taka

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Ben­galuru: About 50 In­dian star tor­toises were flown to Ben­galuru on Mon­day, two years af­ter they were al­legedly smug­gled from In­dia to Sin­ga­pore, an an­i­mal wel­fare or­gan­i­sa­tion said on Tues­day, Novem­ber 27.

“The tor­toises were smug­gled two years ago into Sin­ga­pore il­le­gally where they were con­fis­cated by the au­thor­i­ties. With the co­op­er­a­tion from In­dian and Sin­ga­pore gov­ern­ments, the tor­toises have re­turned to Kar­nataka,” Delhi-based Wildlife SOS said in a state­ment here.

Even though the star tor­toises, which are na­tive to In­dia and Sri Lanka, Awere al­legedly smug­gled two years ago, they have been kept un­der the pro­tec­tion of Sin­ga­pore-based An­i­mal Con­cerns Re­search and Ed­u­ca­tion So­ci­ety (ACRES), a non-gov­ern­men­tal an­i­mal wel­fare body, till they could be re­turned to In­dia.

“It took two years to get re­quired per­mis­sions from the gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties to fly these tor­toises back to Kar­nataka, from where they were smug­gled ac­cord­ing to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by au­thor­i­ties,” Wildlife SOS press of­fi­cer Arinita Sandilya told IANS.

The an­i­mal wel­fare or­gan­i­sa­tion worked with the In­dian Union Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment, Forests and Cli­mate Change, Kar­nataka’s For­est De­part­ment, Cus­toms of­fi­cials from Sin­ga­pore and In­dia and ACRES so as to bring these tor­toises back.

The star tor­toises have been kept in iso­la­tion (quar­an­tined) at the Ban­nerghatta Na­tional Park in the city’s south­ern sub­urb and will re­main there for three months be­fore be­ing re­leased into the south­ern state’s forests.

Wildlife SOS, how­ever, did not dis­close the name of the for­est the tor­toises will be re­leased to, so as to keep the poach­ers away. Once the tor­toises com­plete their three-month quar­an­tine pe­riod, Wildlife SOS plans to ra­dio tag (at­tach­ing ra­dio trans­mit­ters to track lo­ca­tion) and mon­i­tor the an­i­mals for their sur­vival.

The In­dian star tor­toise, which is pro­tected un­der the Wildlife Pro­tec­tion Act, 1972, is among one of the most traf­ficked tor­toise species in the world ow­ing to the unique star-like ra­di­at­ing pat­tern on their shell.

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