This Article is From Dec 24, 2011

601 star tortoises repatriated in the city

Chennai: A parcel containing 601 Indian star tortoises was repatriated to the city from Malaysia and was handed over to the Wildlife department on Friday.

Forest officials said that star tortoises were returned from Kuala Lumpur after customs officials in the airport there found it in an unclaimed parcel that had allegedly arrived from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Officials said that the parcel was suspected to be smuggled to Malaysia. The reptile is not a protected species in both the countries.

Kuala Lumpur Wildlife Department alerted the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau in Chennai.  "The tiny Indian star tortoises were sent back to India and the customs at the Chennai airport handed them over to us," said Karunapriya, Wildlife Warden.

"Since the Indian star tortoise's habitat is South India and Sri Lanka and it is a protected species under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, it was sent to India," said S Davidraj, Forest Range officer, Velachery forest range office. The tortoises will be quarantined for two days at the Velachery forest range office and will be sent to the Guindy National Park and the Arignar Anna Zoological Park.

The herbivorous reptile known as  Geochelone Elegans is native to India and Sri Lanka and foreigners fancy it as pets.The female tortoise is larger than the male and the species can be recognized by the radial yellow lines in its acute. The optimal temperature for the reptile is between 80 and 90 degree Fahrenheit.