By Rhishja Cota-Larson
Encouraging news from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN): 47 pangolins and 100 Arakan Forest Turtles confiscated by police in Myanmar have been rescued.
The pangolins have been released into the wild, and the turtles are being housed and cared for at the Turtle Rescue Center in Naung-Cho Township, Shan State.
Both seizures were made on August 24, 2013. The pangolin incident occurred in Thahton Township of Mon State and one smuggler was arrested and charged in accordance with section 37 (a) of the Protection of Wildlife and Protected Areas Law (1994). If convicted, the defendant faces a prison sentence of up to seven years or a maximum fine of MMK 50,000 (US $51) or both.
Meanwhile, in Hopone Township of Shan State, Forest Department officials seized 105 Critically Endangered Arakan Forest Turtles (Heosemys depressa) and arrested a suspect who is being charged in accordance with section 36(a) of the Protection of Wildlife and Protected Areas Law (1994). The maximum punishment is up to five years in prison or a maximum fine of MMK 30,000 (US $31) or both. The operation was carried out in collaboration with Myanmar Police Force. Sadly, five turtles died.
Two days earlier, 14 tortoises and three turtles (species not provided) were seized at Oattwin Township in Bago Region and one smuggler was arrested. The suspect is being charged in accordance with section 35 (a) of the Protection of Wildlife and Protected Areas Law (1994), which carries a maximum prison sentence of three years, or a fine of MMK 10,000 (US $10) or both.
Thanks to the Turtle Survival Alliance and its partners, an Arakan Turtle Center was opened in Gwa, Myanmar, where a breeding group for this Critically Endangered species has been established.