PRESENT GOVERNMENT COMMITTED TO CHECK WILDLIFE SMUGGLING, SYED RIZWAN MEHBOOB

Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Climate Change, Syed Rizwan Mehboob, said on Monday that the present government is making concerted measures to fight unhampered smuggling of wildlife in the country. “Taking serious notice of the recent turtle smuggling bid foiled by the Sindh Wildlife Department officials, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has appreciated the sindh wildlife officials for such a daring act of duty,” Syed Rizwan Mehboob told media here today.

He recalled that in an unusual raid in Ghizri area of Karachi on Friday, the Sindh wildlife department officials confiscated over 700 black-spotted turtles of worth millions of rupees, which were being smuggled out of the country. The alleged turtle smugglers include three Chinese and nine Pakistanis, who have been taken to court by the wildlife department officials. Six of the alleged smugglers, including the three Chinese are in jail, while the judge has ordered the release of the rest on bail at 50,000 rupees per person.

The judge has also issued a release order for the turtles to be returned to their natural habitat. The focal person further Syed Rizwan Mehboob further said that earlier the prime minister had directed the wildlife officials to take serious action against those involved in the turtle smuggling bid so that the culprits were meted out an exemplary punishment. Endemic to Pakistan, Black Spotted Turtles (geoclemys hamiltoni) are found along the Indus and its tributaries. They are listed on Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and their international trade is prohibited.

The biggest threat to their survival is the illegal turtle trade in Asia, with many of them smuggled out of Pakistan for meat, medicine and as pets. Classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, they are a key species of freshwater ponds,the Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Climate Change Syed Rizwan Mehboob, said the present government had already finalised its conservation efforts to make wildlife-related laws stricter, harsher and more punitive that would help regulate wildlife trade and control wildlife illegal trafficking. “Rules to the Pakistan Wildlife Trade Control Act of Fauna and Flora have been hammered out and soon will be enacted after the federal law ministry’s approval. This wildlife trade act would help control the smuggling of wildlife effectively, “he said.

Source: Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage.