The Forest Department raided the area and recovered the turtles.
As many as 654 Indian flapshell turtles were recovered from a pond in Bharthana in Uttar Pradesh's Etawah district on Wednesday. Out of 654 turtles, 482 turtles were found to be dead and the rest 172 were severely sick.
All the turtle belonged to Lissemys punctata species, which is a protected species under The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Based on a tip-off, the Forest Department raided the area and recovered the turtles. However, the smugglers managed to flee from the spot.
According to the Forest Department, the turtles, locally known as Sundhari, were caught from different locations by an active gang.
After fearing the arrest, the kingpin of the gang, Raj Kapoor hid the turtle in the pond. The Forest Department with the help of local police launched the operation and found turtles following the crackdown.
"The smuggled turtles are used for making soup. People also believe that they are used to increase their sex power," said Dr Ashish, environmentalist.