1 Tahrcountry Musings: Alarm Bell Rings for Asian Box Turtles

Monday, February 23, 2009

Alarm Bell Rings for Asian Box Turtles

According to a new report by the wildlife trade-monitoring network TRAFFIC Unregulated trade, at 10 to 100 times legal level, has caused Southeast Asian Box Turtles almost to vanish from parts of Indonesia. The turtles are used for meat and in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Major consumers are Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia. Box turtles are also in demand as pets in the US, Europe and Japan.

The study noted 18 traders operating in Java, Sulawesi, Sumatra and Kalimantan dealing illegally in Southeast Asian Box Turtles. Each trader was handling on an average 2,230 turtles. Indonesia’s official annual export quota for this species is 18,000 turtles per year. The trade is ten times the official export quota. TRAFFIC says this is a conservative estimate. It could be as high as 100 times. At this rate the turtle would be wiped out across Indonesia in no time at all.

Weak enforcement of existing laws is a key problem. Non-inspection of shipments, falsification of CITES export permits, and lack of training amongst enforcement officers compound the problem. The report recommends better training and more cooperation between Indonesian enforcement authorities and those in importing countries to tackle illegal wildlife trade

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