India has been awarded a certificate of commendation for its effort to combat illegal wildlife trade by CITES, a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals.
Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan today said the award was given to the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) under the ministry yesterday by the Secretary General of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in Geneva.
"India has been awarded with the certificate of commendation for its exemplary enforcement action in its regional and global effort to combat illegal wildlife trade," he said.
Currently, 183 countries are signatory to the CITES.
Vardhan said the award was given to WCCB for its efforts in conducting and coordinating a species specific wildlife enforcement operation, codenamed 'Operation Save Kurma'.
India is the only recipient of the certificate of commendation at the 69th Standing Committee meeting of CITES, he added.
'Operation Save Kurma' was conducted in the country by the WCCB to combat the proliferating illegal trade in live turtles and its parts from the country to destinations abroad.
The minister pointed out that the operation was also aimed at inviting attention of the enforcement agencies towards such illegal trade.
During the 'Operation Save Kurma' conducted from December 15, 2016 to January 30, approximately 16,000 live turtles and tortoises were seized and released back into the wild.
Vardhan said 55 suspects involved in the illegal trade were also arrested.
The WCCB worked in close collaboration with regional law enforcement agencies, including West Bengal CID, state police and forest department, the special task force of Uttar Pradesh Police, Karnataka forest and police departments and Maharashtra and Rajasthan forest departments.
A message from Vardhan was also conveyed to all the participants at the Geneva convention.
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