SUKKUR: Around 200 smuggled turtles that China recently handed over to Pakistan were released into the Indus River (in the Kalar block) near the Rohri forest on Monday.
The black pond turtles, a freshwater species, were smuggled out of Sindh and were confiscated in Taxkorgan, China, last month. Later, they were handed over to Pakistani officials in a ceremony held at Khunjrab Pass on the Pakistan-China border.
According to wildlife officials, it’s for the first time that turtles that had been smuggled in large numbers from Pakistan were returned and released back into their habitat.
“It’s a historic moment for Sindh. The government has accorded protected status to freshwater turtles and is taking all institutional measures to conserve wildlife,” said secretary to the Sindh government for forests, environment and wildlife Naila Khan during a programme held for turtle release at the site in Sukkur.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Country Representative Mahmood Akhtar Cheema said the turtles’ journey back home was a significant achievement for global efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade.
“The organisation is supporting the Climate Change Division in preparing the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) rules for Pakistan. Besides, the process is also under way to formulate proposals at the national and regional levels to address issues of trans-boundary wildlife conservation and wildlife trafficking,” he said.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2014