Lucknow, Jan 10 (Agencies): Two poachers were arrested with over 40 tortoises in Hathras in Uttar Pradesh, police said on Monday. Mohammad Qayam and Ramesh Chandra were nabbed on Sunday from Jairara area.

“Acting on a tip-off, we intercepted a Tata Sumo car in which the two were travelling. They were arrested after two sacks containing tortoises were recovered from their car,'” said police inspector DK Dubey.

He further added that preliminary investigations indicated the two were supposed to hand over the tortoises to their gang members in south India.

The two are jointly being interrogated by police and forest officials. They have admitted that they have been into the illegal wildlife trade for the last five years. Both of them are natives of Uttar Pradesh.

A case under Section 9 (prohibition of hunting) and Section 49B (prohibition of animal trading) of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) has been registered against the two men.  India banned the trade of tortoises under the 1972 Wildlife Protection Act, but the huge premium and lax laws are increasingly luring poachers to the trade.

Tortoises are killed for their meat and for their use in preparation of some medicines, officials said.