Atanu Raha, principal chief conservator of forests, said a team from the Forest department conducted a recce last Friday to ascertain reports of the turtles being reared as pets.
“They have been taken to the Deer Park for now and are being checked to see if any of them belong to rare species,” said Raha.
Locals said that the turtles had been kept in two neighbourhood aquariums measuring 15ft x 6ft and 9ft x 6ft respectively. We had collected them from various places in South 24-Parganas like Joynagar and Canning and spent nearly Rs 4,000 each month on their upkeep, said a member of the shopkeepers’ association.
After a visit by forest officials last Friday, the association members had visited the state forest minister, where they were told that it was illegal to keep the animals as pets.
Interestingly, the forest officials missed a turtle while confiscating the other 31. The turtle was later handed over to the Forest department by the association members.