Dawn Newspaper, Pakistan
July 7, 2005

KARACHI: Expert identifies seized turtle

By Bhagwndas

KARACHI, July 7: The 3,600 kg seized turtle meat is of fresh water turtles which are protected under the law. The customs had confiscated the meat when it was being smuggled out abroad by a Lahore-based trader. They had earlier claimed that the confiscated meat was of Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) which are endangered and are protected internationally.

According to Customs sources, the examination of the turtle meat was carried out by the Sindh Wildlife Department?s turtle expert Dr Fahmida Firdous who identified that the meat was that of the Fresh Water Turtles (Terrapines), scientifically known as Chitra indica, which are commonly called as Indian Soft Shell Turtles.

The turtle meat was being smuggled out to Vietnam in a 40-foot AC container (No CBHU 256321) and was confiscated by the Customs Intelligence at the Karachi International Container Terminal at West Wharf.

The container also contained over 7,000 kgs of cow offal in bags and the turtle meat was hidden between these bags. The turtle meat bags comprised flesh, flippers and plastron.

The sources said export of all wild reptiles is prohibited according to the new export policy issued by the Ministry of Commerce (vide SRO No 32 (1) 2005, dated Jan 10, 2005).

The sources said that the Sindh Wildlife Department came to know about the seizure and itself approached the Customs and sent their turtle expert who carried out the examination and identified the meat to be of Indian Soft Shelled Turtle.

Indian Soft Shelled Turtles are found in Southern Asia, from Pakistan to Malay Peninsula and occur in India, Ganges and Irrawadi river systems.


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