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Recovered freshwater turtles released into natural habitat

Posted on 12 September 2016

Sukkur, Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD) and WWF-Pakistan jointly released 760 black-spotted turtles (Geoclemys hamiltonii) on Monday, 12 Sept 2016 into their natural habitat in Sukkur. These turtles were recovered by SWD and other law enforcement agencies jointly during a raid at a bungalow in Khayaban-e-Rahat, DHA, Karachi in which 12 traffickers including nine Pakistanis and three foreigners were arrested. In addition, two vehicles were also taken into custody.

The freshwater turtles were released in a lake in Kallar Goth near Rohri Toll Plaza and Nara Canal near Aror, Sukkur. Senior officials of Sindh Wildlife Department, WWF-Pakistan, other civil society organisations and media representatives released these turtles into their natural habitat pledging their support to conserve the diminishing population of freshwater turtles of Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Adnan Hamid Khan, Deputy Sanctuary Warden, SWD shared that the department is keeping a vigil on illegal trade of endangered species especially black-spotted turtles which are being illegally exported from Pakistan. He also said that the department is making every possible effort to curb the illegal trade in province and striving to have harsh punishments imposed on those involved in the illegal trade. He lauded the efforts of WWF-Pakistan for supporting the department in timely release of these reptiles into the Indus River.

While, Ali Dehlavi, Head of Sindh and Balochistan region, WWF-Pakistan termed it a great step towards curbing wildlife trafficking from Pakistan. He further said that poaching and smuggling of freshwater turtles, due to their demand in the East Asian countries particularly China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Vietnam has led to a significant decline in their populations. He also shared that WWF-Pakistan is working in close coordination with provincial wildlife departments to tackle illegal wildlife trade in the country and is utilising its resources to support these initiatives. He emphasized the need for strict vigilance on wildlife trafficking and called for an awareness campaign to sensitize people on this issue. ‘WWF-Pakistan strongly supports stringent penalties on smugglers so that the trafficking of wildlife species is discouraged at the local, national as well as international levels’, he added.

Muhmmad Azeem, in-charge Raid Party SWD warned the traffickers that they should refrain from committing wildlife crimes otherwise strict punishments would be awarded to them. He also appealed to the people to inform the department wherever they observe such activity in their locality so that timely action is taken.

‘This turtle release is a great achievement on part of Sindh Wildlife Department and WWF-Pakistan to foil a network of traffickers and safely release these turtles into their habitat. Turtles contribute to maintain the integrity of freshwater ecosystems and have the important role of scavengers. This seizure according has also conveyed a strong message to poachers to refrain from harming wildlife or else face strict punitive action’, said Altaf Hussain Sheikh, Manager Conservation Sindh, WWF-Pakistan. He also emphasized the need to raise awareness and mass mobilization of public and relevant organizations on this issue.

There are eight species of freshwater turtles found in Pakistan; five of which are globally threatened according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.


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