Seoni (MP) :
Two West Bengal residents were arrested with six rare African spurred tortoises here in Madhya Pradesh, an official said.
The arrest and seizure were made duirng a vehicle checking drive Monday night in the Dunda Seoni area of the district, he said.
Forest officials said each of the six seized tortoise costs Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh in the international market.
Seoni’s Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) T S Sulia said these tortoises were found in a car coming from West Bengal and going towards Maharashtra.
The rescued African spurred tortoises are of rare species who live up to 150 years, he said, adding they appear to be aged 60-70 years and weigh 12-15 kg each.
These tortoises are used in medicines and for witchcraft, the forest officer said.
A four-member Special Task Force (STF) of the forest department has reached Seoni from Bhopal for investigation, Sulia said.
It is being ascertained if the arrested persons have any links with international smuggling gangs, he added.
Dunda Seoni Police Station in-charge Pradeep Balmiki said the duo was travelling from their native Hooghlydistrict to Shirdi in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.
He gave their names as Kaushik Das (34) and Balram Naiya (30).