KARACHI: The Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD) confiscated 40 Green Sea turtle hatchlings and 9 individuals of Indian Flapshell turtles which were sold at two aquarium shops at a market on Burns Road, on Monday and we as a society appreciated the efforts of Sindh Wildlife Department on Tuesday.
SWD's Raid Party conducted the raid on the request of the WWF-Pakistan, which has been receiving several complaints from concerned citizens about the illegal trade of turtles in Karachi. The Indian Flapshell turtles were released at Haleji Lake, Thatta on Tuesday whereas the Green Sea turtles would be released at Sandspit Beach, Karachi on Wednesday.
Saeed Akhtar Baloch, Conservator Wildlife SWD shared that this successful seizure is a significant effort to halt the illegal trade of wildlife in the province. He added that the SWD has been able to foil two networks of traffickers involved in the freshwater turtle trade and has rescued hundreds of freshwater turtles in the past year. This seizure also contributes in achieving the commitment of the department to ensure zero poaching and trade of all species of turtles. This in turn will support ecosystem services provided by turtles as scavengers such as keeping our aquatic ecosystems clean.
Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan shared that WWF-Pakistan is concerned about the increase in the illegal trade of the turtles and tortoises within the country due to their growing demand as pets. According to him their open trade in pet shops and online via social media is increasing at an alarming rate which needs to be strictly monitored. He highlighted that the foiling of the illegal sale of turtles in Karachi demonstrates the strict vigilance and alertness of concerned organisations and law enforcement agencies and that strict penalties should be set as examples for others involved in this illicit business. He also pointed out that all species of freshwater and marine turtles are protected under the wildlife protection laws of the country but despite this their illegal trade continues.
He also emphasised that like all other illegal acts the wildlife crime industry is also demand driven hence changing the behaviour of buyers through persuasion as well as through informed choices can support the fight against this illicit trade industry. He therefore urged that awareness campaigns for the general public should be initiated, at a national level in collaboration with the relevant wildlife departments and organisations, to highlight this issue and enhance public awareness on this matter.