JAKARTA: Indonesian authorities have seized two massive hauls of protected Pig-nosed Turtles totaling 7,634.
The first incident occurred on January 17 when 2,350 pig-nosed turtles were seized in Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport. They were headed for Shang Hai, China, via Singapore, in boxes labeled as “mangrove crabs”.
Just ten days later, 5,284 pig-nosed turtles were confiscated in Bali at the Ngurah Rai airport, where they arrived on a flight from Mozes Kilangin airport in Timika, Papua. Three passengers were detained and questioned by police.
“The seizure is timely and stands as one example of a worrying illegal trade between wildlife-rich Indonesia and large consumer markets in China,” says Dr Chris R. Shepherd, Regional Director of TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia. “It is highly unlikely that Pig-nosed Turtles can withstand such enormous off take.”
Pig-nosed Turtles are totally protected by Indonesia’s national legislation, and are listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The Pig-nosed Turtle is classified Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.
According to TRAFFIC, seizures involving thousands of baby pig-nosed turtles are most common between January and March, which is the ends of the nesting season in Indonesia, and warned that authorities should be especially attentive during this time.
“Given what we know about the seasonality of the illegal harvest and trade in this species, it is highly likely that more such attempts will be made in the near future”, says Dr. Shepherd. “We strongly encourage the authorities to punish offenders to the full extent of the law, to deter further smuggling of this threatened species.”
In its October 2014 report, Assessing the trade in Pig-nosed Turtles Carettochelys insculpta in Papua, Indonesia, TRAFFIC recorded 32 smuggling cases totaling more than 81,689 individual turtles during 2003 through 2012.
“Further highlighting the enormity of this illegal trade was one seizure occurring in Timika, Papua in 2009, which rescued 12 247 Pig-nosed Turtles (more than four times higher than average seizure numbers) bound for Jakarta.”