Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Pig-nosed turtle is too cute for its own good, says new report

The global trade in illegal pets is booming, and at the top of its list of casualties is an adorable little turtle with a porcine snout

Christina Russo

theguardian.com, Tuesday 7 October 2014 14.30 BST

C insculpta.jpgThe global illegal animal trade is taking its toll on vulnerable species, among them a small and distinctive reptile you might have seen featured in news stories for being smuggled aboard airplanes in people’s trousers. According to a newly released report by Traffic, an international watchdog group that monitors the wildlife trade, the rare pig-nosed turtle is under dire threat from exotic pet enthusiasts.

According to Serene Chng, programme officer at Traffic’s Kuala Lumpur office, the reptile is in high demand from pet traders - including online traders - in Europe, the United States and Asia. It can be found only regionally in Australia and Papua and is categorized as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The pig-nosed turtle - named for its porcine snout – is especially appealing to pet traders because of its “uniqueness”, explains Chng: “They are the only surviving species of the family they are in. They come from a restricted range, so it is very exotic to own [them]. And the hatchlings are very attractive and very cute.” The species can grow up to 50 lbs and two feet in length over the course of its 40-year lifespan.

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