KARACHI: The wildlife department raided a bird market in Liaquatabad on Thursday and recovered 154 rare tortoises kept for illegal sale. They would cost nearly Rs1.5 billion in the international market.
The wildlife department raided a shop in the bird market located in alAzam Square in Liaquatabad. The department took 154 tortoises into its possession, which included 129 fresh water, nine sea and 13 land tortoises. According to Wildlife Department Deputy Century Warden Adnan Hamid, a special team of the wildlife department, led by Red Team Incharge Azeem Burfat, raided and took the special breeds of tortoises in possession upon receiving a tip-off Thursday afternoon.
The special breed of tortoises was kept for sale. According to the wildlife department, each tortoise cost nearly Rs80,000. Attempts to smuggle these aquatic creatures abroad are made often.
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According to the department, the seized tortoises are between one and six months old. Action has also been taken against the sale of aged and large tortoises, which are high in demand across the globe for their meat.
Several teams are working to curb the smuggling of tortoises. During the operation, a suspect, Shakir Ali, was taken into custody. He is being interrogated for further information. During the course of the initial investigations, the arrested shopkeeper said that the tortoises, brought from Thatta and Badin, were sold to them. According to the wildlife department, several types of tortoises being smuggled are on the verge of extinction and, as per the law, smugglers can be fined thousands to billions of rupees in penalties.
The tortoises will be released in their natural habitats, such as Hawke's Bay, Haleji Lake and the mountainous regions of Balochistan.
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Meanwhile, experts say that these aquatic creatures play a role in cleaning the seas and rivers. The tortoises not only clean various types of filth, but feed upon snakes and several dead aquatic creatures, thus preventing water pollution, according to experts.