Sunday, 19 March 2017

15 endangered turtles found smuggled in shoes: Taiwan Customs – via Herp Digest

The turtles were turned over to a wildlife center in northern Taiwan

By Matthew Lubin,Taiwan News, Staff Writer 3/13/17

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The Forestry Bureau said on March 13 that the Customs Administration confiscated 15 endangered turtles on flight FX5142 from Malaysia being smuggled inside sports shoes in parcels.

All of the turtles were alive when discovered by customs when the parcels were checked, and the Forestry Bureau has sent them to a wildlife center in northern Taiwan. The wildlife center works with academic institutions and the Taipei Zoo to ensure proper care of its animals.

The wildlife center has options for the endangered turtles, including returning them to their native habitats. No specific plan has been made at this time.

The Forestry Bureau plans to prosecute the smugglers. Relevant laws indicate offenders are subject to six months to five years in prison and a fine of NT$300,000 (US$9,700) to NT$1.5 million.

Among the turtles confiscated were one angonoka tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora) and 14 painted terrapins, or saw-jawed turtle (Batagur borneoensis). The angonoka tortoise is native to Madagascar and is one of the rarest land tortoises in the world with an estimated wild population of just 600. The painted terrapin is native to rainforests of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and is a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix II critically endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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