6,430 flapshell turtles weighing over four tons were rescued from poachers in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh this week. It’s the largest haul of its kind in the country’s history.

The unlucky turtles were discovered by police during a raid. They were stuffed in 140 bags and loaded on a truck bound for India’s eastern border. From there, the turtles would have likely ended up in soups pots in China, Thailand and other countries in South East Asia where their meat and bones are believed to have medicinal qualities.

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The police also arrested a man they think is the smuggling ring’s kingpin. The investigation is still ongoing, but the fact that so many turtles were recovered at once is shocking. While flapshell turtles are not endangered, they are a protected species. Their status may soon change if they continue to get poached in such large numbers. It doesn’t help that smugglers can reportedly earn up to $15 per turtle and eight times more for really large ones.

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At least there’s hope for the thousands that were rescued by the Uttar Pradesh police. To learn more about the threats facing turtles around the world, check out the Turtle Survival Alliance.

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