Source: Daily Times
Date: December 12, 2007


Tortoise meat, shells worth Rs 4m seized

* PWD seizes 26 cartons of frozen meat, five bags of shells
* PWA official says meat smuggled into South Asian countries

By Hina Farooq

LAHORE: The Punjab Wildlife Department (PWD) on Tuesday seized 26 cartons of frozen tortoise meat and five tortoise-shell laden bags, the department officials told Daily Times.

The officials said the meat was being smuggled into Islamabad via Motorway. They said they had seized the meat from Sherakot Toll Plaza. They said a case had been registered under the Sections 11, 13, 14 and 15 of the Punjab Wildlife Act (PWA).

They said a Lahore PWD team led by Aga Ezaz Ibrahim on a tip-off had stopped a truck (SLN 4777) near Sherakot Toll Plaza and seized the meat and shells worth Rs 4 million. The team, he said, had arrested Rashid Ashraf and Sajjad Anwar Khan.

The Section 11 of the PWA says any protected animal or game animal found dead or dying or which has been killed or caught otherwise than in accordance with the provision of the act and any meat or trophy thereof shall be the property of the government.

Section 14 of the PWA reads no person shall export or attempt out of Punjab any animal, trophy or meat specified in second schedule except under an export permit granted under this act and if such export be to any country outside Pakistan except through a customs post of exit and subject to any law relating to control on export for time being in force.

Section 15 of the PWA says no person shall as a profession, trade or business, buy, sell or otherwise deal in wild animals, trophies or meat thereof or process or manufacture goods or articles from such trophies or meat, unless he/she is in possession of a valid license, hereinafter called a dealers license, to do so issued by an officer authorised in this behalf.

Wildlife Department spokesman Azhar Khalid said the government had banned trade in the tortoise meat. He said international companies had hired poachers to catch tortoises from across Pakistan. He said the tortoise meat had been smuggled into South Asian countries. ?Tortoise meat is in great demand in Thailand and China,? he said, ?Tortoise shells are used in traditional Chinese medicines.?