Andhra Pradesh: 397 turtles rescued, two smugglers at large

Undeterred, they resumed smuggling turtles from the Godavari districts to Odisha.
Andhra Pradesh: 397 turtles rescued, two smugglers at large

RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM: Forest department officials in Rampachodavaram town successfully rescued 397 Indian tent turtles following a raid at the Foxpet forest checkpost in Alluri Sitharama Raju district on Saturday night.

Forest Range Officer (FRO) Karunakar said the turtles were released into the Godavari River within the Papikondalu forest area. Upon receiving a tip-off, a team led by Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) GG Narendrian rushed to the Suddagommu area, where they intercepted and seized a vehicle transporting the turtles. When the forest personnel approached, the smugglers fled the scene. A search of the vehicle revealed the turtles and 37 were found dead.

The accused were identified as Mantosh Dey and Hari Roy, both from Malkangiri district of Odsiha. These individuals are repeat offenders, previously caught in May with 1,589 turtles concealed in onion bags. They had been arrested and sent to judicial custody but were later released on bail. Undeterred, they resumed smuggling turtles from the Godavari districts to Odisha.

The smugglers typically procure their contraband from various locations including Kalidindi to Krishna district, Achanta-Palakollu in West Godavari and Rampachodavaram in Konaseema district. They then transport the turtles to Odisha via the Sileru area. Turtles are highly sought after in the Odisha market, fetching as much as Rs 2,000 each. The smuggling operations are centred around Kotta Patha-81 village.

Previously, smugglers transported turtles by boat along the Sileru River. However, the construction of a bridge over the river has forced them to use road routes, crossing through checkposts in Konaseema, East Godavari, and ASR districts. A case has been registered and an investigation is launched.

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