200 smuggled turtles brought home from China

Published August 23, 2014
Eight different species of freshwater turtles are found in Pakistan; five of them are globally threatened species. — Photo by AFP
Eight different species of freshwater turtles are found in Pakistan; five of them are globally threatened species. — Photo by AFP

KARACHI: Two hundred black pond turtles that were smuggled out from Sindh to China were brought to the Indus Dolphin Centre in Sukkur on Friday.

The Chinese authorities handed over the turtles to a Pakistani delegation comprising Sindh wildlife department and World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) officials at a ceremony held at the Pakistan-China border at the Khunjerab Pass.

“The rescued hard-shell turtles will be released into their natural habitat soon once they are rehabilitated at the Dolphin Centre that has been declared their quarantine,” said Sindh Wildlife conservator Javed Maher.

The Chinese officials, he said, had arrested two Pakistani and five Chinese poachers who, he said, would likely get life imprisonment. Earlier, such criminals were awarded the death penalty.

Uzma Noureen, a WWF-P official who was part of the delegation and is also a member of the IUCN Tortoises and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, said: “A number of species including turtles are illegally poached and smuggled out from Pakistan to other countries, especially China and east Asian countries. However, it is for the first time that animals have been recovered alive from poachers and repatriation of turtles has taken place.”

Eight different species of freshwater turtles are found in Pakistan; five of them are globally threatened species. All eight freshwater turtle species are listed in the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora) Appendices I & II and their import and export without a legal permit is prohibited. These turtles are found in the entire Indus river system.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2014

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