Turtles Conservation Day observed amidst fear of their extinction

The World Turtle Conservation Day 2018 was celebrated in the country on Wednesday amidst fear of their extinction.
Conservationists talking to APP warned that fresh water turtles, included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species may soon turn endemic in the country, registered to be home to internationally declared endangered species.
Freshwater turtles found across Pakistan, in almost all rivers, canals, ponds, streams and even rice fields are presently faced with steady decline due to high demand for their meat and skin in East-Asian countries, said Dr. Najam Khurshid.
The senior professional holding a vast experience of handling wildlife conservation attributed the situation to trapping and netting of turtles as well as trading of alive turtles and their body parts to different parts of the world.
“Five out of eight species of the freshwater turtle in Pakistan have either already been endangered or are increasingly vulnerable to extinction,” he said.
In reply to a query, he confirmed that poaching as well as smuggling of turtles was banned under national as well as provincial Wildlife Protection laws.
“Yet we witness inland trafficking as well as smuggling of the same abroad,” he said and attributed it to high demand for fresh water turtles in many of the countries where the meat, skin and other parts are essential components for wide range of delicacies.
Their body parts were said to be also used in traditional Chinese medicines hence surge in illegal exports from Pakistan was cited to be quite expected.
Dr Rahat Najam supplementing her colleague said turtle meat was also consumed by certain local communities and that there was also no dearth of poachers involved in illegal export of turtle to western countries.
“Growing fondness for turtles as pets in the western world has further activated the wildlife smugglers to indulge in the trade,” she said.
The two professionals also drew attention of local authorities towards conservation of black-spotted turtles, a popular variety among pet traders.
Trafficking of the same in the country as well as abroad is a fast emerging phenomenon, they said mentioning that the black spotted variety fetched thousands of dollars in the international market.
“These thus hold high risk to diminish once removed from their natural habitat for a longer duration,” warned Dr Khurshid Najam.
The conservationists sought concerted efforts at every level to protect all species of turtle peculiar to local habitat as are crucial for the country’s bio-diversity closely linked to buffer environment related challenges.
With regard to marine turtles, visiting the local coasts for breeding, Dr. Najam mentioned that growing sea pollution have also emerged as a serious threat for them.
Sindh Wild Life Department was said to had initiated an extensive campaign for their protection which did produce positive results, however, owing to paucity of funds the project had to be shelved.
“We the citizens have to own such schemes and also educate our children and youth the importance of keeping our beaches clean,” said the senior conservationist. —APP

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