Two Indian Star Tortoises were rescued from Indraprastha Park, New Delhi on Wednesday. The Wildlife SOS team identified them as Indian star tortoises (Geochelone elegans), a species of tortoise found in India, South-eastern Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
This species is quite popular in the exotic pet trade despite being protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. They are also listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which regulates the international trade of wildlife species.
Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder of Wildlife SOS told Policy Pulse, “We believe that the tortoises were abandoned in the park. This species is often kept as ‘exotic’ pets or for spiritual purposes. In India, it is illegal to possess and commercially trade protected tortoise species."
"A large number of specimens of the Indian star tortoise are found in the illegal wildlife pet trade due to their high demand in the international black market,” he added
Sanjeev Gandhi, the person who placed the call said, “I saw some crows creating a ruckus near a bush and out of curiosity, decided to take a closer look. I was surprised to find two tortoises behind the bush. After taking the Wildlife SOS helpline number from a friend, I contacted their helpline for assistance.”