36 turtles, tortoises confiscated from Sunday Bazaar
ISLAMABAD: The Wildlife Management Board confiscated 36 endangered turtles and tortoises from the Sunday Bazaar.
A team from the department raided a stall at the weekly bazaar after a citizen registered a complaint with the authorities concerned.
The team, however, could recognise only two species – the fresh black spotted pond turtles and smiths turtles.
In the absence of an expert on Sunday, the brown tortoises have not been identified.
Wildlife Management Board Chairman Dr Anisur Rehman explained that turtles were endangered species in Pakistan, and their numbers in the wild were not known.
“Trade and possession of endangered species is prohibited both by local laws and under the international conventions that protect wildlife.”
He said both the species were extremely important in their habitats as cleaners of ponds and rivers as well as the natural surroundings.
“Turtles are highly demanded in Southeast Asian countries where its shell soup is considered a delicacy. However, in Islamabad, laws are being enforced to completely ban the trade and possession of endangered species,” he added.
The Wildlife Management Board was formed under the Wildlife Act and has the mandate to protect national parks in Islamabad, its wildlife besides managing the Margazar Zoo.
Mr Rehman recently convinced a senior magistrate of the Capital Development Authority to reconsider his earlier decision to release an endangered Himalayan black bear cub to its owner.
In his new directions, the CDA magistrate allowed the wildlife conservation department to keep the bear cub.
Its nose ring has been removed and now it has a bigger enclosure in the zoo.
“With its teeth pulled out, the bear cub cannot be released into the wild. The cub will now be released in a bear sanctuary in Chakwal where it will have a bigger space to move freely,” said Mr Rehman.
However, the confiscated turtles and tortoises will have a better future once their species has been determined, he said.
“The turtles and tortoises will be returned to the wild where they will continue with their role in nature,” he said.
According to an official from the wildlife department of the zoo, the individual selling the endangered reptiles would walk away but with a complete ban on his business activities in the Sunday Bazaar.