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  NDTV.com 14 Sep 06
Rare Olive Ridley turtles seized in Agra

In a major crackdown on the illegal wildlife trade, the Uttar Pradesh forest department along with wildlife SOS, an NGO working on conservation, tracked down a consignment of hundreds of specimens of endangered animals from a courier company in Agra.

The company Professional Couriers, had received the packages from Royal Biological Storage Company in Chennai and were to deliver it to a man in the city.

Hundreds of dead specimens of cobras and the endangered baby Olive Ridley turtles along with several other species like crabs and sea horses were recovered in the raids.

"We got a tip and we came here and we found all of this. This is the first time I have seen something like this here. This company does not seem to have any paperwork or license for these packages of whether they are biological specimens. If they do not produce the license then they will all be arrested," said the District Forest Officer.

First raid

This is the first such raid conducted on a courier company. The delivery staff didn't know what was in the packages but confirmed that these were regularly received from a Chennai address.

"Yes, this has been like this for two years. We have never suspected what is in the package. This time one of the packages was split open and we suddenly saw what was in them. So that made us nervous," said one of the arrested men.

The owners of the courier company have fled as well as the person who was meant to receive the package.

Further raids are planned and it's also unclear what the specimens were meant for.

The animals found are highly endangered and protected and any kind of trade in them alive or dead is prohibited without a license.

The conservationists want to know how come the courier service of this deadly cargo continued for so long undetected even through airports.

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