Lucknow, Jan 10 (IANS) Two poachers were arrested with over 40 tortoises in Hathras in Uttar Pradesh, police said Monday.
Mohammad Qayam and Ramesh Chandra, around 35 years, were nabbed Sunday from Jairara area.
'Acting on a tip-off, we intercepted a Tata Sumo car in which the two were travelling. They were arrested after two sacks containing tortoises were recovered from their car,' police inspector D.K. Dubey told reporters in Hathras, some 300 km from Lucknow.
'Though we are yet to establish where from the tortoises were brought, preliminary investigations indicate that the two were supposed to hand over the tortoises to their gang members in south India,' he said.
According to police, some of the tortoises seized from the duo's possession were alive and handed over to the forest officials.
'The two are jointly being interrogated by police and forest officials. They have admitted that they have been into the illegal wildlife trade for the last five years. Both of them are natives of Uttar Pradesh,' said Dubey.
A case under Section 9 (prohibition of hunting) and Section 49B (prohibition of animal trading) of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) has been registered against the two men.
India banned the trade of tortoises under the 1972 Wildlife Protection Act, but the huge premium and lax laws are increasingly luring poachers to the trade.
Tortoises are killed for their meat and for their use in preparation of some medicines, officials said.