Black-market Trade Threatens Turtles: Experts

KUALA LUMPUR ~ A surge in demand for exotic freshwater turtles and tortoises in Southeast Asia is fuelling rampant illegal trade in the animals in Indonesia, wildlife experts have warned.

TRAFFIC Southeast Asia said its investigators discovered that 48 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises were sold in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta and the vast majority were illegally obtained.

The wildlife trade monitoring group said they included all six of Indonesia’s fully protected freshwater turtles and five non-native species listed in the CITES convention, which bans all commercial international trade.

TRAFFIC’s senior program officer Chris R. Shepherd urged Indonesia to step up enforcement to stop the illegal trade and nab the criminals.

“The open trade in protected species indicates a lack of enforcement effort and blatant disregard for the law. Dealers admitted to TRAFFIC that freshwater turtles and tortoises are smuggled in and out of Indonesia with ease,” he said.

“TRAFFIC encourages the government of Indonesia to ensure combating wildlife crime is given high priority, and that every effort is made to clamp down on the criminals involved,” Shepherd said.

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