Mumbai Crime: Two tortoises rescued from Mulund pet shop

Updated: Jan 31, 2018, 10:52 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty | Mumbai

Shop owners booked for trying to sell animal protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Act

The tortoises rescued by cops and animal rights activistsThe tortoises rescued by cops and animal rights activists

Chinese New Year 2018 is barely a fortnight away, on February 16, and tortoise smuggling is at an all-time high, according to experts. With the help of cops, animal rights activists have rescued two star tortoises from a pet shop in Mulund. An FIR has been filed against the shop owners for trying to sell the animal, which is protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Acting on a tip-off, two animal right activists from People For Animals (PFA), Chetan Sharma and Nirali Koradia, rescued the tortoises on Thursday. According to police sources, the shop owners, identified as Joy Pal and Bhagti Parwade, have been booked under Sections 9, 39, 44, 49 and 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.

Speaking to mid-day, Koradia said, "This isn't the first such case in the city. Often pet owners sell these protected species right ahead of the Chinese New Year. As per Feng Shui, the Chinese metaphysical and quasi-philosophical system to synchronise individuals with their surrounding environment, tortoises bring good luck to people. So, people are often advised to have these animals as pets. It's unfortunate that despite widespread awareness campaigns, people continue to illegally sell or purchase these protected animals."

As per the 1972 Act, any sort of trade in star tortoises (or Geochelone elegans) can attract jail term up to three years. It's also illegal to possess, transport, sell or offer the species. A senior officer from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau said, "The price of tortoises is higher in the international market than in India. Therefore, tortoise smuggling is fairly high in the city. Smugglers fetch up to ten times the price of the animal in the Indian market when they sell it to foreign buyers. Of late, these smugglers have been using unique codes to facilitate trade in tortoises as a result of which it has become tougher to track the culprits. We are also trying to ascertain prices of the tortoises seized from Mulund."

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