Two consignments of 450 Indian Soft Shelled Turtles ( Nilssonia Gangetica ) and Spotted Pond Turtles ( Geoclamis Hamiltonii )were seized by the Mumbai Airport Air Intelligence Unit, just before they were being shipped off to Kualalumpur to end up as fancy dishes at restaurant dinner tables.
They were being smuggled wrapped in zipper pouches and taping with transparent adhesive tapes.
Various wildlife offences were lodged against the carriers with the Jurisdictional magistrates. The Judiciary then accorded its permission to release the seized wildlife in their natural environs.Thane SPCA and RAWW ( Resquink Association for Wildlife Welfare ) started coordinating with the Maharashtra Forest Department from the very first hours of the haul. While Raww assisted in the physical distribution of the turtles at various centers, Thane SPCA’s wildlife veterinarian checked each of these for physical fitness , admitted the sick ones to the hospital and started to coordinate with different wildlife experts to decide on the most suitable release spot. Finally Turtle Survival Alliance was identified as the agency for the repatriation.
After the approval of the Chief Wildlife wardens of both the states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, the translocation was carefully planned for May 23rd, which is the World Turtle Day. To prepare the turtles for the long journey courtesy Air India, each of them were numbered, checked by our wildlife veterinarian and packed individually in netted bags. Each turtle was adequately hydrated and kept comfortably in well ventilated crates. 23 such crates were prepared. They were hydrated every four to five hours until their unloading at the Cargo point . Thane SPCA WAS privileged to carry the turtles to the airport in their ambulance at the request of the Forest Department.
Five weeks after they were seized, the turtles swam free in their own natural habitat, thanks to the incredible example of co-operation between Government departments and the Non Governmental sector, dedicated to saving the lives of these small creatures, so vital for the health of our ecology.
We wholeheartedly thank the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Thane Shri K. Thakre and the staff of the Forest Department, the PCCF and CWW (Wildlife), Uttar Pradesh, the officers of Turtle Survival Alliance, Air India and the staff and volunteers of Thane SPCA and RAWW for making this relocation an unprecedented success.