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  PlanetArk 9 Jan 07
Rare Indian Turtles Sold as Sex Stimulant Rescued

Yahoo News 8 Jan 07
Indian police rescue 2,000 turtles from smugglers

LUCKNOW, India (AFP) - More than 2,000 freshwater turtles were recovered from poachers who were planning to smuggle them into Southeast Asia, police in northern India said. Nine people were arrested in Etawah district, 200 kilometres (125 miles) southwest of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state, police spokesman Surendra Srivastava told AFP.

The turtles, which are protected under India's Wildlife Protection Act, were returned to their natural habitat.

"The meat of the turtle is in big demand because it is believed to be a good aphrodisiac," said Srivastava. Wildlife expert Jayan Chaudhry said that turtle meat sells for around 1,000 rupees (22 dollars) a kilogram in the Indian market, but can draw up to 10,000 rupees a kilo abroad.

"Turtles are also much in demand for their skin, used for making leather products," said Chaudhry.

PlanetArk 9 Jan 07
Rare Indian Turtles Sold as Sex Stimulant Rescued

LUCKNOW, India - About 2,000 rare freshwater turtles, whose meat is sold as an aphrodisiac on the black market, were rescued from poachers in a north Indian town on Monday after a tip-off from a resident, police said.

The turtles were found packed into sacks in a house in Jaswant Nagar town in Uttar Pradesh state about 200 km (125 miles) west of the state capital, Lucknow, and are estimated to have a street value of about US$23,600. Police said they had arrested five men believed to be planning to ship the turtles to the eastern state of West Bengal, and possibly other Asian countries such as Thailand and Malaysia, where eating them is believed to stimulate sexual desire.

"Preliminary investigations suggest that a large chunk of the contraband finds its way to Southeast Asian countries, where turtle meat is converted into crunchy chips for convenient consumption," said Ram Kumar, police chief of Etawah district in Uttar Pradesh.

Police said this was the second case of turtle poaching in the district since December when around 1,000 turtles were saved from poachers by wildlife officials. "Etawah was being used as a transit point for poachers, who picked up turtles from the Chambal river, which is rich in the species," said Kumar, adding that the turtles had been released back into the river.

According to the Turtle Survival Alliance, India has 28 species and subspecies of tortoises and freshwater turtles, making it one of the most diverse chelonian faunas in the world.

India ranks among the top five Asian countries in terms of its importance for turtle conservation, but nearly 40 percent of the species are listed as endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List.

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