Guwahati: The Railway Protection Force recovered an unclaimed consignment of 235 rare turtles from a train at the Kamakhya Railway Station here on Saturday. The turtles, mostly Indian flapshell turtles, were found hidden inside ten bags.

Official sources informed that RPF assistant sub-inspector Bhanita Barman Talukdar, along with head constable Narayan Das, conducted a check inside coach numbers 201255 and 191321 of train number 19305 Up (Indore-Kamakya) on platform number 4 of Kamakhya Railway Station after the arrival of the train around 2 pm.

“While checking, they found live turtles inside the bags. The RPF team produced and handed over the turtles to Guwahati Range under Kamrup East Division,” forest department sources informed.

“A wildlife case has been registered and the seized turtles have been taken to the Assam State Zoo for treatment and rehabilitation,” the sources informed.

The Indian flapshell turtle is a freshwater species of turtle found in South Asia. The “flap-shelled” name stems from the presence of femoral flaps located on the plastron. These flaps of skin cover the limbs when they retract into the shell. It is unclear what protection the flaps offer against predators.

Reportedly, turtles are smuggled as the body parts of these reptiles are sold illegally for their supposed aphrodisiacal properties and use in traditional medicine.

It may be mentioned that two front-line NGOs – Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) India and Help Earth, along with the Kamrup district administration and Assam State Zoo had in June last year signed a memorandum for long-term conservation of the rare freshwater black soft-shell turtle at Hayagriva Madhab Temple in Hajo, about 40 km from here.

The multi-stakeholder association had given a boost to the endangered turtle conservation project in Assam in regard to restocking the wild, viable, self-sufficient and genetically pure threatened turtle population in the Northeast.

The signing ceremony also marked the launch of a ‘Vision Document 2030 for Black Softshell Turtle (Nilssonia nigricans)’.

The vision document envisions establishing an ecologically-viable population of 1000 adults of black soft-shell turtle Assam by 2030.

Also read: Two-day state mourning for Lata Mangeshkar

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