TIRUCHY: Forest department plans to send back a consignment of exotic turtles, mostly red-eared sliders, that was seized from a passenger at airport recently. According to sources, officials are planning to send it back to Sri Lanka as it came from there.
Sources added that SriLankan Airlines also failed to notice the consignment carrying the turtles during security check with the reptiles kept in different boxes inside a stroller bag.Last year, Customs caught hold of another Sri Lankan passenger with 3,000 red-eared sliders at Chennai International Airport. In many such cases, the Forest department was helpless in taking tough action against such illegal importers as these non-native species are not listed under the scheduled lists of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
These foreign turtles are popularly known as Singapore turtle or American turtle in the pet market in India and is widely imported without proper documents as many people believe that keeping it would bring luck. The growing demand for these exotic species has encouraged many people to illegally import these reptiles from illegally operating breeding units in several Asian countries. “These baby turtles would be brought from a captive breeding facility as most of them are of the same size. Otherwise, it is impossible to get these many turtles of similar size,” said Muralidharan M, an eminent turtle biologist and marine researcher.
Even in this case, experts confirmed that the Forest department will be able to take action against the passenger only for importing it without proper documents.