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PESHAWAR: Wildlife department destroys turtle parts

August 28, 2007

PESHAWAR, Aug 27: The NWFP Wildlife department on Monday destroyed parts of dead turtles recovered from a hut near the Shah Alam River on the Charsadda Road. An official of the wildlife department said that a week ago some species of turtles were declared ‘endangered species’ by the government and trade and possession of turtles was made illegal.

Turtles have been recently added to the list of endangered animals under the NWFP Wild Life Act 1975. The NWFP Wildlife department banned the hunting of turtles after declaring the species of fresh water turtles found in the NWFP as illegal.

However, the wildlife chief conservator was unable to tell how many species of fresh water turtles were found in the NWFP. He said that perhaps seven or eight kinds of fresh water turtles were found in water bodies all over the province.

The issue of turtle trade in the NWFP surfaced when three Chinese nationals involved in this trade were shot by unidentified men in Peshawar on July 8.

The chief conservator, wildlife department, Mohammad Mumtaz Malik, said the wildlife department staff was now authorised under the law to seize the contraband and register an FIR.

He said those found in possession or involved in the illegal trade of turtles would be penalised with imprisonment up to two years.

Pakistan also became a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1976 which prohibits trade in turtles, turtle parts and eggs.

Mr Malik said that intimation from the CITES prompted the department to ban the trade and possession of turtles as illegal. He said they seized and burnt parts of turtles recovered from a hut near the Shah Alam River on Monday.

He said there were reports that some people were exporting turtle skins to China, and added a few days back about 800 kg of dead turtles being exported to Thailand were confiscated at the Karachi airport.

He said: “The seized parts of turtles are now contraband and we have to destroy it just like other contraband like drugs and liquor.”