Does a rampant turtle trade thrive in Pakistan?
last month's seizure of a meat consignment at Karachi port has been identified by the Sindh Wild Life Department (swld) as fresh water turtle, a banned export item. Since a Lahore-based company had booked the consignment for Vietnam, it is believed the turtles were caught in the Punjab province, where fresh water ponds and lakes abound. Initially, the 3.6-tonne consignment was taken for the endangered Green TurtlCholineoMidasydas, protected internationally. All species of marine turtles are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species , to which Pakistan is a signatory; trade in turtle parts and eggs is banned in the country.
After the seizure, swld's green turtle conservation project in-charge Famedi Fido'sous approached the customs department, seeking examination of the consignment. "They [customs department] didn't bother to verify the meat before labelling it green turtle meat," complains Fido'sous. A customs department official said a case has been registered against the exporter. The meat will not be released as it is now a case property, but it is feared that it will go waste, says swld chief conservator Ghulam Husain Channa.
swld is responsible for conserving endangered species along the Karachi coast. A department official argues that fresh water turtles are not considered an endangered species as they are found in abundance in Sindh and Punjab. However, the Sindh government has declared marine turtle as a "protected" species and Pakistan's new export policy, issued in January 2005 by its ministry of commerce, also prohibits the export of all wild reptiles.
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