Illegal pet trade threatens freshwater turtles and tortoises | WWF Malaysia

Illegal pet trade threatens freshwater turtles and tortoises



Posted on 08 January 2008
Radiated Tortoise <i>(Astrochelys radiata)</i>
Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata)
© TRAFFIC Southeast Asia/Chris R. Shepherd

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – An increasing demand for exotic freshwater turtles and tortoises in Southeast Asia is fuelling rampant illegal trade in the pet markets of Indonesia, according to a report released today by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.

TRAFFIC investigators undertook surveys of pet markets in Jakarta and found 48 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises for sale, the vast majority of them illegally obtained.

They included all six of Indonesia's fully protected freshwater turtles and five non-native species listed in Appendix I of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), meaning that all commercial international trade is prohibited.

TRAFFIC found that CITES-listed species were more expensive than non-listed species, but noted they were no harder to obtain.

"The open trade in protected species indicates a lack of enforcement effort and blatant disregard for the law," says Chris R. Shepherd, Senior Programme Officer of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia and leading author of the new report, 'An overview of the regulation of the freshwater turtle and tortoise pet trade
in Jakarta, Indonesia'.

Enforcement of CITES and national regulations is challenging, as individuals involved in wildlife crime are often well organised, but dealers admitted to TRAFFIC that freshwater turtles and tortoises are smuggled in and out of Indonesia with ease.

"TRAFFIC encourages the Government of Indonesia to ensure combatting wildlife crime is given high priority, and that every effort is made to clamp down on the criminals involved in it," says Shepherd.

He adds that people buying illegally sourced animals should also be made fully aware they are contributing to the demise of wild populations. Large numbers of freshwater turtles and tortoises are harvested in Indonesia, with no scientific research carried out to determine the impact on wild populations.

The report recommends the Indonesian authorities should reduce or even stop the freshwater turtle and tortoise trade, until scientifically sound harvest quotas can be determined and implemented.

For more information, please contact:
Chris R. Shepherd, Senior Programme Officer for TRAFFIC Southeast Asia (in Malaysia)
Tel: +603 7880 3940, Email: cstsea@po.jaring.my

Radiated Tortoise <i>(Astrochelys radiata)</i>
Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata)
© TRAFFIC Southeast Asia/Chris R. Shepherd Enlarge
Indian Star Tortoise <i>(Geochelone elegans)</i> awaiting sale in filthy conditions.
Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans) awaiting sale in filthy conditions.
© TRAFFIC Southeast Asia/Chris R. Shepherd Enlarge