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Thousands Of Turtles Were Almost Smuggled Out Of Country To Be Eaten

It's the largest bust in India's history.

The lives of 6,430 protected flapshell turtles were rescued from wildlife smugglers in India this week - the largest bust of its kind in the nation's history.

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Authorities from the Uttar Pradesh Police's Special Taskforce discovered the multitude of freshwater turtles during a raid. They had been piled inside bags and partially loaded onto a truck bound for India's eastern border.

From there, the turtles would likely have been smuggled to countries throughout South Asia, where their meat and bones are traditionally thought to have medicinal qualities.

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Special Taskforce chief Arvind Chaturvedi said one person, believed to be the poaching ring's kingpin, has been arrested. The investigation is still underway, but the recovery of this many animals is already unprecedented.

"Wildlife authorities confirmed that this is the largest haul in the country's wildlife history, both in terms of number and weight - 4.4 tonnes," Chaturvedi told AFP.

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Flapshell turtles are not currently listed as endangered, but considering the scale in which they are being stolen from the wild, authorities say that could soon change. Fortunately, for the thousands rescued during this seizure, there is still hope.

The rescued turtles are under care awaiting a court order, after which they will be returned to their natural habitat.

To learn more about the threats facing turtles worldwide, visit the Turtle Survival Alliance.