Chennai Central in High-Stakes Tortoise and Turtle Trafficking Network, Reveals Study

  • 04 Oct 2023

A recent study has exposed Chennai Central as the top-ranked node in a network responsible for trafficking tortoises and hard-shell turtles, fuelling the global pet trade.

Several other Indian cities, including Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, and others, also feature prominently in this network.

Key Points:

  • Focus on Soft-Shell Turtles: The study, titled 'From Pets to Plates,' indicates that the trafficking of soft-shell turtles primarily occurs within India, with minimal international trafficking, primarily to Bangladesh.
  • Most Frequent Trafficking Links: The study identifies frequent trafficking links, including Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh to unspecified West Bengal districts and North 24 Parganas to unspecified districts in Bangladesh.
  • Purpose of the Study: It aims to address the illegal trade in tortoises and freshwater turtles, focusing on different illegal markets, and design targeted interventions.
  • Challenges and the Trade's Impact: The "Asian turtle crisis" refers to the dire state of tortoises and freshwater turtles in Asia due to habitat destruction and illegal harvesting.
  • In India, at least 15 of the 30 TFT (tortoises and freshwater turtles) species, including endangered ones, are illegally traded, with law enforcement agencies seizing tens of thousands of TFTs annually.
  • Freshwater species like Indian flapshell turtles are particularly in demand in illegal markets.
  • Effects on Traded Turtles: Turtles involved in the trade often suffer from dehydration, starvation, broken or bruised shells, and external injuries, with high mortality rates.