NEW DELHI: The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has warned that traffickers are using women carriers to smuggle dried turtle calipee from India. It is further trafficked to Bangladesh for its final destination in South-East Asian countries where it is considered a “delicacy” and sold at exorbitant rates. Turtle calipee is a fatty gelatinous layer found immediately over the lower shell of a turtle and esteemed as a delicacy. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, India’s federal law enforcement agency dealing with the illegal trade of endangered species, has managed to seize 565 kg of the dried turtle calipee.
A major chunk of this smuggled stuff came from Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal between 2018 and 2021. This year three cases of smuggling in calipee have surfaced until June. These turtle calipees are illegally trafficked out of India to Bangladesh to later find markets in South-East Asian countries where it is considered a delicacy and of medicinal value, the agency said in a statement. “A recent trend of using women carriers by the calipee traders has been observed.
The women suspects often travel along with males,” said an official. He says illegal trade in turtles and tortoises in India is thriving as is driven by highprofit margins, making it among the most threatened wild species. The soft shell calipee is cut, dried and trafficked through Etawah, Etah, Mainpuri, Auraiya, Sultanpur, Amethi and Farrukhabad to Bangoan or other border areas of West Bengal from where it is sent to Bangladesh. Most traffickers are from West Bengal who pay a petty amount to fishermen and members of nomadic tribe ‘Kanjar’ for catching turtles from downstream of Ganga plains. It has been found that the turtle meat is consumed or sold locally while their calipees are removed, boiled and dried for further transportation.
The officer said the calipee is carried in plastic sacks mostly through passenger trains. Carriers board trains at various halting points before the main station or junction to avoid luggage checking. Railway tickets are booked online or arranged by associates at various stations. During checking by law enforcement officials, specifically, Railway Protection Force or Government Railway Police, the carriers mislead officers by calling the calipee as tree barks used for making local herbs. All such seizures indicate that the Calipee is collected from UP and then transported from UP to West Bengal by carriers mostly from the Kanjar community by trains to be finally smuggled to Bangladesh, the officer added.