Malkangiri: Balimela range forest officials have rescued a pair of endangered Indian softshell turtles near Balimela Square here on Friday and arrested a smuggler in this connection.
The accused person has been identified as Pandu Gaini of MV-67 village in this district.
As per the information, a pair of endangered Indian softshell turtles weighing around 15 kgs each were being smuggled from Andhra Pradesh to the district market.
Acting on a tip-off, Balimela forest personnel conducted a raid, rescued the turtles and arrested the accused person under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
A case (67/19) has been registered against the person and forwarded to court. Further investigation is on, said Balimela forest officials.
Divisional Forest Officer Sushant Dalei said the tortoises were reportedly smuggled to prepare delicacies in restaurants of southern Odisha. The rescued turtles have been released in Chitrakonda forest reserve today.
The turtle species are classified as endangered and their capture and transport is punishable under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.