1,500 live turtles found crammed into suitcases14/02/2012 13:50:44
Seized at Indonesia's Mopah Airport
February 2012: Close to 1,500 live pig-nosed turtles have been seized at an airport in Indonesia.
The 1,495 turtles were concealed inside two suitcases and discovered at Mopah Airport en route to Jakarta, the nation's capital and a major hub for illicit wildlife trade.
Valued as pets, and possibly consumed as meat in some countries, pig-nosed turtles are smuggled out of Indonesia by the thousands.
Kept as pets, eaten, or used in traditional medicine
There are also indications that many of the turtles are bound for the kitchen table, or to be used in traditional medicines.
Although pig-nosed turtles are totally protected in Indonesia, making collection for export illegal, the trade large scale persists.
Illegal reptile trade is rife in Indonesia
‘The authorities involved in intercepting this shipment are to be congratulated,' said Chris Shepherd, deputy regional director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.
‘However, the fact that dealers continue to smuggle shipments of this size indicates a serious problem in Indonesia, where illegal reptile trade is rife.'
The Pig-nosed turtle is threatened by habitat degradation and by illegal and unsustainable harvest for local consumption and international trade. It is listed as Vulnerable to extinction in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Many protected animals are openly for sale
Among them were 19 green turtles and eight Malaysian giant turtles, both listed as Endangered by IUCN and Totally Protected in Indonesia.
A host of non-native species were also seen, including a single ploughshare tortoise and ten radiated tortoises, both critically endangered species endemic to Madagascar.
‘Illegal and unsustainable trade in turtles and other reptiles in Indonesia is a serious threat to the conservation of many species. Indonesia's enforcement agencies must take firm action against traders in Indonesia flouting the law,' said Shepherd.