An Icacos fisherman held with six adult tortoises is expected to appear in the Point Fortin Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
The yellow-footed tortoises, also known as the Brazilian giant tortoise, were found in a crocus bag in the truck of a vehicle en route to Sangre Grande.
Acting on information, around 7.45 pm officers of the La Brea Police Station stopped a silver wagon along the Southern Main Road, near the Rousillac Presbyterian School. There were four occupants in the wagon, including the fisherman who was in the back seat.
Upon searching the vehicle, the police found a crocus bag with the turtles. The fishermen claimed ownership but admitted he did not have a permit to have the reptiles in captivity.
Turtles are among the protected animals in T&T. The turtles, five females and one male, are believed to be between 15 and 20 years old and weighed over 15 pounds.
Police suspect that the turtles were smuggled into the country from Venezuela. They were being taken to Sangre Grande to be sold, police said.
Game wardens Steve Seepersad, Andy Singh, Bisham Madhu and Jeremy Dindial were contacted and went to the Guapo Police Station. The turtles were handed over to officials of the zoo while Seepersad charged the fisherman with six offences of keeping a protected animal in captivity without a permit. The offence carries a maximum fine of $10,000.
The turtles are expected to be brought to court for the fisherman’s appearance.
- by Sascha Wilson