India

Indian police seize 6,000 stolen turtles in record haul

Flapshell turtles Image copyright Photo courtesy: TSA India
Image caption The turtle haul weighed four tonnes - a record

Indian police have seized more than 6,000 freshwater turtles from poachers who planned to smuggle them out of the country.

The live flapshell turtles were found stuffed in sacks near Amethi in Uttar Pradesh state, bound for Kolkata.

One man has been arrested over the four-tonne haul, thought to be the largest in the country's history.

The flapshell is not endangered but it is often smuggled to south-east Asia, where its meat and shells are prized.

Their meat is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac, while the bones are powdered for use in traditional medicines.

The turtles were caught locally from the Ganges basin, where they helped cleanse the water by feeding on fragments of dead animals.

"Wildlife authorities confirmed that this is the largest haul in the country's wildlife history, both in terms of number and weight," said Arvind Chaturvedi, head of the state's Special Task Force.

Mr Chaturvedi said the man arrested was the "kingpin" of a large network and more arrests would likely follow.

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