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Pakistan customs seizes about 2 tons of smuggled turtle meat

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this photograph Black-spotted turtles are seen swimming in a pool at a quarantine center in Sukkur, southern Pakistan, September 11, 2014. © AFP

Pakistani authorities have conducted an investigation after nearly two tons of freshwater turtle meat from smugglers was confiscated at Karachi port.

“This is the biggest ever consignment of turtles seized in the history of the (Pakistani) customs,” Pakistan’s senior customs official, Irfan Javed, was quoted by the AFP as saying on Friday.

Last week, customs officers managed to foil the smugglers’ attempt to illegally transport 1,900 Kilograms of turtle meat, falsely labeled as fish meat, to Hong Kong after a customs official on duty ordered a search of a suspicious container at the port in the capital of Pakistan’s Sindh Province.

Javed said the consignment of dried meat and other body parts gathered from 4,200 turtles was worth more than USD 6 million on the international market.

A Pakistani firm registered in the city’s upmarket Defense area had arranged the consignment for a Chinese importer in Hong Kong.

Customs officials along with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have registered the case under the criminal and wildlife laws, Javed added. 

Samples have been sent for further investigations to determine the exact species of the turtles before they were sealed at the customs confiscation facility, and efforts to make arrests are under way.

Turtles being smuggled 

In June 2014, approximately 200 of black-spotted turtles (shown below), which are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s “red list” of endangered species, were smuggled from Pakistan to Chinese Nature Reserve, Taxkorgan, in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Officials could take the turtles back and return them to their niche in the Indus River.

The protected black-spotted turtles, which inhabit the longest Asian river, Indus, have been threatened by smugglers who have hunted and smuggled them to clients in China and Thailand in an alarmingly rising rate over the past years.


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