IAR helps to return more than 600 Pig-nosed Turtles to the wild
International Animal Rescue's team in Indonesia, together with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), has assisted the Indonesian Government in the return of more than 600 juvenile Pig-nosed Turtles (Carettochelys insculpta) from Hong Kong to Merauke, in Papua, where the animals will be released back into their native habitat.
The 785 turtles were confiscated by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) in Hong Kong on 14 January this year. The animals were caught from the wild in Indonesia and smuggled illegally to Hong Kong. Until their return to Indonesia was made possible, the turtles were kept at the Wild Animal Rescue Centre at Kadoori Farm and Botanical Garden (KFBG). Now the Pig-nosed Turtles are being returned to their homeland.
The HK Government confiscated the turtles when they were on their way to China, and showed interest in collaborating with the Indonesian government to return them to their country of origin. After a few months of communications and paper work, and with the assistance of International Animal Rescue Indonesia and KFBG, the turtles set off on their repatriation, arriving at Merauke on 6 October.
Populations of Pig-nosed Turtle are rapidly declining owing to hunting pressures for both the illegal wildlife trade and for food, and are further threatened by habitat loss and degradation. In 2000, they were classified under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which controls all commercial and non-commercial trade of wild fauna and flora. They are classified by the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable, meaning that conservation actions are needed in order to prevent the species becoming endangered.
With assistance from the staff of IAR, the WCS, and the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia (BKSDA), a location on Bupul, Maro river in Merauke (Indonesian Papua), which combines suitable habitat with a low risk of possible re-capture, has been chosen for the turtles' release.
Said Karmele Llano Sanchez, Executive Director of IAR Indonesia: "The return of the turtles to their natural habitat will help in the conservation of this illegally traded and heavily exploited species, and will also act as an example to all CITES country members that repatriation of animals is possible and that enforcement and punishments against the illegal wildlife trade can take place anywhere. Collaboration between countries is crucial to combat illegal wildlife trafficking, which is the world's third most profitable illegal trading activity."
For further information or high resolution images, please contact Indri Hapsari, Education and Communications Officer IAR Indonesia at +628128885072 or Dr Karmele Llano Sanchez on +6281318887263.