I did not take the following photo of this beautiful Sea Turtle happily in its natural oceanic habitat, but I found it uncopyrighted on the internet!:
In addition to seeing their numbers threatened by illegal poaching, the turtles were subjected to terrible cruelty by the traders. To kill the turtles, the traders would turn them upside down and slice open their bellies, an act that did not kill the animal immediately but rather allowed it to suffer very much alive. Alternatively, some of these sea creatures were placed over a fire until they could not breathe and had to stick their heads out for air. The poachers then chopped off the head. Finally, sometimes they were simply turned upside down and left in the hot sun. From this position these animals could not escape nor obtain water and it could take 3 days for death to occur.
The VSPCA has assisted in preserving one of the ocean's great species and has virtually eliminated this terrible suffering in local areas. In Visakhapatnam today, you will not see any trade in Sea Turtles or their eggs.
Obviously the VSPCA is not home to any Sea Turtles because these lovely creatures belong in the ocean. However, the shelter does provide happy sanctuary to many rescued Star Tortoises like this fellow!
Here is a baby crawling over and around the very patient adults:
And wandering on his own:
The Star Tortoise is one of the top 10 most endangered species in Asia. They are often illegally sold into China for use in medicinal remedies and as food for the dinner table. They are also sought as pets in several Western nations including the United States, despite international protection, and reach a black market price of $200US per animal.
Star Tortoises are nearing extinction, which is why the preservation of Star Tortoises at VSPCA and elsewhere is critically important.
They are gentle, curious creatures:
These animals, when provoked, will fight back. So the poachers would cruelly break the lizard's legs and also its tail, which would have been a good defensive tool for the lizard. The Monitor Lizard also has a terrific set of teeth so the poachers would bang out its fangs.
Here is an action shot of Pradeep apprehending a poacher illegally possessing a baby Monitor Lizard. The baby lizard is hung by its neck from the stick the poacher is holding. Pradeep is in the striped shirt: