Abandoned Indian Star Tortoises rescued from Delhi park

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New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) Two beautiful Indian Star Tortoises, found abandoned in Delhi’s Indraprastha Park, were rescued by wildlife conservation society Wildlife SOS.

The Indian Star Tortoise, a critically endangered species, is targeted in the illegal wildlife trade to meet global demands in the pet market due to its stunning looks, and also for the traditional Chinese medicine market.

“It is illegal to posses them in India. A person can go to jail for seven years if found possessing these tortoises,” Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder of Wildlife SOS, told IANS.

“The smugglers must have thrown them in the park out of fear of getting caught,” he added.

Several superstitions are attached to the tortoises, such as good luck charm, which makes these land-dwelling reptiles more vulnerable.

“People keep tortoises and turtles at home believing in false myths that they have magical properties. While the truth is that it’s very difficult to maintain them,” a wildlife expert said. The tortoises live on land while turtles and terrapins mostly live in water.

The use of Indian Star Tortoises in traditional Chinese medicines also keep poachers hunting for them for the market in China and other Asian countries.

“In traditional Chinese medicine, their shell is believed to have aphrodisiac properties. So people consume the shells, make its soup and oil to increase the sexual powers,” said Satyanarayan.

The meat and penis of these reptiles is counted among popular Chinese delicacies.

On Tuesday, while going around the Indraprastha Park, Delhi resident Sanjeev Gandhi saw a muster of crows inspecting something around the bushes.

“I was surprised to find two tortoises in the bushes. I asked for Wildlife SOS number from a friend and called them for help,” he said.

According to the rescuers, it is very odd to find these tortoises in a Delhi park and they were apparently abandoned on purpose.

“This species is often kept as exotic pets or for spiritual purposes. A large number of specimens of the Indian Star Tortoise is found in the illegal wildlife pet trade due to their high demand in the international black market,” said Satyanarayan.

–IANS

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