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Turtle smuggling racket busted, one arrested

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Kendrapara, Aug 19 :

A freshwater turtle smuggling racket was busted with the arrest of its kingpin from near Bhitarkanika Nationak Park in Kendrapara district, a forest official said on Monday.

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Sekhar Jena (24) was arrested from Madanpur, adjacent to the national park, with 14 turtles by forest personnel on Sunday, Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division Kedar Kumar Swain said. Jena was later handed over to police. The seized turtles were released into nearby water bodies.

The number of freshwater turtle is sharply dwindling as they are caught and smuggled out mostly to major urban places of the state and Kolkata, he said. The forest department would soon launch a drive in Rajnagar, Mahakalpada and Jamboo forest range on conservation of freshwater turtles.

Local settlers eking out a living by traditional inland fishing would be made aware of the fact that either catching alive or killing a freshwater turtle is a penal offence, Swain said. (PTI)