In Agra, India, cases of wildlife poaching are becoming more and more common. Just this week, after receiving an urgent call on their helpline from a concerned local citizen, Wildlife SOS found 52 turtles entangled in a poacher’s net. The turtles were found in Keetham Lake, located inside of the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary.

Officials from Wildlife SOS, one of South Asia’s largest rescue and conservation non-profit organizations, were horrified and disheartened to find that by the time they reached the lake, 42 of the turtles were dead. Luckily, with the help of the local forest department, they were able to rescue 12 of the struggling creatures.

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The fact that the four turtle species they identified during the rescue were “protected” under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, goes to show that locals are completely disregarding the ordinances set in place to protect these animals.

Considering Southeast Asia is currently the most popular market for tortoiseshell products, this type of cruel activity is not all that surprising. Turtles, which are associated with knowledge, longevity, and spirituality in Asian culture, are largely sought out for their beautiful shells which are used for decoration or jewelry, as well as for their supposed healing and medicinal properties. That sure is a backward way of celebrating a beloved animal shaman!

Officials from Wildlife SOS are not calling the 12-turtle-rescue a victory just yet. They are currently on the hunt to find the culprits behind this particular massacre, and hopefully of all the poaching that has been going on in this area as of late. For now, the most helpful contribution you can make to stop these cruel practices is to spread awareness. As Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS said, “awareness regarding the illegality of the offense and the abominable treatment of these animals is incredibly important to curb cruelty and poaching of wildlife.”

We can all push officials to start strongly enforcing poaching laws around the world by letting them know that we are aware, and we are not okay with it.

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