CUTTACK: Forest officials on Wednesday rescued 12 narrow headed soft shell turtles from an islet of Kathjodi river at Anlatalanga village near 42 Mouza in the city.
Acting on a tip-off, forest officials scoured the islet and recovered the endangered turtle species which were tied by ropes and packed in gunny bags. The turtles were kept hidden in the isolated patch before being smuggled out of the State. The culprits, however, had fled before the officials reached.
Official sources said the turtles would have been taken to West Bengal where they are considered a delicacy. Each turtle weighed 30 to 35 kg and its meat fetches between `300 and `400 per kg in the markets there.
The Indian narrow headed soft shell turtle (Chitra Indica) is mainly found in the Mahanadi river in Odisha and has been subjected to heavy poaching for meat.
City DFO, Bhubaneswar, PK Mishra said the rescued turtles would be sent to Nandankanan Zoological Park.
Mishra acknowledged that hunting and smuggling of turtles along the Mahanadi-Kathjodi belt are rampant. Earlier, raids had resulted in seizure of turtles from Cuttack and Puri.