Sunday, 8 November 2015

Chinese black market endangering rare Philippine Forest Turtle

OCTOBER 26, 2015
by Brett Smith
   
The black market trade of animals threatens many endangered species, and the latest animal conservationists are raising red flags over the forest turtles living in the Philippines.

In particular, conservationists are worried about the Philippine Forest Turtle, which can only be found in the Philippine island of Palawan. Originally found in 1920, only four specimens of the Philippine forest turtles were identified until 2001 when a wild population was discovered holding onto to existence at the northern end of Palawan Island.

"They sell them mainly to the Chinese exotic food and medicine trade and the pet trade. They are smuggled out of the country, some are even traded on the high seas," Adelina Villena, chief of staff at the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, told the AFP.

The Philippine Forest Turtle, also known as the Palawan forest turtle, is listed as "critically endangered" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is found in the island’s freshwater forests and streams.

Approximately 20 of these turtles were confiscated on October 18 among a haul of nearly a thousand forest turtles gathered by illegal wildlife traders in Palawan, Villena said. The turtles were handed over to a Palawan wildlife rescue facility where they are being rehabilitated and may soon be delivered back to the wild.

She added that the poaching of such turtles has jumped recently with over 4,000 freshwater turtles—most of them of the endangered variety—also confiscated in Palawan in June. That haul of is thought to represent about $1.4 million in value.

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