Foreigners held for smuggling turtles lived in DHA without police notice
KARACHI: The three Chinese held in a major turtle seizure case along with nine Pakistanis had been living in a rented Defence Housing Authority (DHA) bungalow for five years and the local police station had no knowledge about it, it emerged on Saturday when they were sent in judicial custody on court orders.
According to details, more than 500 live freshwater turtles were confiscated during a raid on a DHA bungalow late Friday night. The raid jointly conducted by the wildlife department and the police led to the arrest of 12 suspects, including three Chinese.
Twenty turtles were found dead.
“Nine suspects were held when we raided a bungalow located in Khyaban-i-Rahat, DHA, on a tip-off late Friday night,” said Adnan Hamid Khan, head of the provincial wildlife department turtle conservation unit at Hawkesbay.
According to Mr Khan, the DHA raid followed arrest of three suspects in the Gizri area the same day. “Initially, we intercepted three suspects travelling in a car and recovered 180 turtles from them.
“Investigation with these suspects showed that they were involved in a business being operated from the said bungalow.”
The bungalow, he said, was owed by a doctor who rented it out to the Chinese. “Under the law and government directives, the owner should have informed the local police station about the presence of Chinese before renting his premises to them,” he said.
The Chinese had been living there for five years and one of them was a teenager, he pointed out.
According to wildlife sources, the bungalow was also being used for hair collection as part of a hair wig business being carried out in China.
The turtles currently being kept in the wildlife department office in Karachi will soon be released in the Indus River.
Meanwhile, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan appreciated the wildlife department efforts in dismantling yet another wildlife trafficking ring in Sindh.
“Illicit wildlife trade of freshwater turtles is escalating in Pakistan and about 850 black pond turtles have so far been confiscated by law enforcement agencies this year,” WWF-P director general Hammad Naqi Khan said.
All freshwater turtle species of Pakistan are protected under the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Balochistan wildlife protection acts and are included in the revised Wildlife Protection Act of Sindh.
Black pond turtles are listed in Appendix-I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and their trade in any form is globally restricted. Pakistan is a signatory of the convention and the smuggling of these turtles is a violation of the CITES regulations as well as the provincial law.