KUALA LUMPUR (dpa) – The trade of Indonesia’s critically endangered pig-nosed turtles has reached “alarming levels” despite being a protected species, an international anti-wildlife trafficking group said Saturday.
The freshwater reptile, which has flippers and a snout like a pig, is threatened by the “impacts of high international demand, organised global wildlife trade and poor enforcement in Papua province, Indonesia,” according to Traffic.
More than 80,000 pig-nosed turtles were discovered in the course of some 30 seizures between 2003 and 2013, the group said.
“More recently, 8,368 animals were discovered in several suitcases in connected seizures in Papua and Jakarta in January 2014,” Traffic said in a statement.
Traffic said there is a growing international demand for the pig-nosed turtles, with some unscrupulous companies drying and grinding the turtles into powder to supply traditional medicine markets in China and Hong Kong.
“Minimal enforcement at the source has allowed such practices to continue unhindered and led to exploitation of turtle populations even along remote waterways,” Traffic said.
Chris Shepherd, the regional director of Traffic in South-East Asia, urged authorities in Indonesia’s Papua province to conduct enforcement operations against middlemen operating in rural communities and better monitoring of Indonesian ports.