Assam Yuva Santha (AYS) in a successful operation unearthed a racket involving the sell and smuggling of the rare black soft shell tortoise, scientific name Nilssonia Nigrican and in Assamese known as Louporia kaso in Jorhat on Wednesday. Talking to Times of Assam, Anup Kumar Dutta, General Secretary of AYS informed,” We had specific information about a deal going to happen between traders involved in this heinous business. Acting on a tip off, we lay a trap near balimahi resort near Negheriting in Dergaon under Golaghat district followed them till they crossed the kakodonga river and reached Jorhat and caught two red handed while the third managed to escape by running into a village nearby. On examining the bags we found two semi green-black coloured turtles”.
While the main leader has been identified as Biplob Das (44) of Negheriting Siva Mandir and a LML freedom bike bearing registration number AS-05-A 8013 and a LML Vespa AS -03 C 4392 were recovered from the duo. Both have confessed to the use of the bikes for a long time in the trade till now until got caught today. Interestingly these types of turtles are found in the Brahmaputra and its tributaries and also found in temple ponds.
The smuggling and consuming of flesh of the freshwater turtles in Assam is considered a delicacy and a roaring business. In India smuggling of turtles is illegal and banned and most of the time these smugglers get past check-posts saying that they are transporting fish, but in fact they are smuggling animals protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
Till the filing of this report, the traders are believed to be under the custody of AYS and are likely to be handed over to the police. Moreover a team a forest department guards on the direction of the Range officer Jorhat is heard to have taken custody of the tortoises and released in the brahmaputra river near Neemati. Initially forest officials were about to release the pair in the famous Rajmaou pond situated at the heart of Jorhat town but on the insistence from the reporter of Times of Assam that if released in the pond, the pair might not get the right environment to breed did the forest guards agree to release in the fresh water of the river Brahmaputra.
A few moments of delay would have got the turtles to the butchers table and that many wildlife workers have expressed their vote of thanks to AYS for the successful campaign. Forest guard identified as one Gayon remarked that this is the first such case of recovery of such rare turtles in the year 2012, while admitting serious lapse in the monitoring of the areas by the forest guard officials where these turtles are known to breed and because of their slow movements often fall prey to human hawk eyes.