WWF-Pakistan with the support of Sindh Wildlife Department has successfully retrieved 200 black pond turtles illegally poached and smuggled to China. The Chinese authorities were instrumental in confiscating the consignment of hard-shell turtles arriving from Pakistan.
There are eight different species of freshwater turtles found in Pakistan; five of which are globally threatened species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. All eight freshwater turtle species are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendices I & II and their import and export without a legal permit is prohibited. Countless species including turtles are illegally poached and exported to other countries especially China and East Asian countries. However, it is for the first time that the animals have been recovered alive from the poachers and repatriation of the turtles has taken place.
The turtles were handed over to Pakistan in a friendly ceremony conducted at the Pak-China border at Khunjerab Pass. Uzma Noureen, Coordinator Indus River Dolphin Conservation Project, who is also a member of the IUCN Tortoises and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group accompanied Pakistan’s delegation of Sindh forest and wildlife officials to bring back the turtles to Sukkur. The rescued turtles will be released into their natural habitat after being rehabilitated.
The freshwater turtles are found in the entire Indus river system, which proves to be beneficial for the ecosystem, as they feed upon dead organic material, diseased fish and clean up the water resources. Turtles in Pakistan face multiple threats due to habitat degradation, scarcity of water, pollution and the biggest threat to its survival is from illegal trade to different countries on commercial scale.
Did you know?
Turtles show nest fidelity. A female turtle returns to the same nesting ground from where it was hatched!
The order Chelonia exhibits temperature dependent sex. Nest temperature if greater than 30°C produces females whereas below 30°C males are born.