Trafficking serious threat to turtles
KARACHI: Illegal trafficking of turtles is a persistent threat to their survival in Pakistan and this can only be halted through effective enforcement of the law, alleviation of main determinants such as poverty, and raising awareness at all levels, stated the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) on World Turtle Day.
The non-governmental organisation also called upon all key stakeholders to join hands to strengthen efforts to protect the declining turtle population threatened by illegal trade, particularly the demand for their meat and body parts in East Asian countries.
“Turtles have been known as one of the oldest group of reptiles on earth and they are facing several challenges to their survival primarily as an outcome to human-induced threats which include habitat reduction and degradation, fishing-induced mortalities, pollution and illegal trade, among others,” the WWF-P said in a press release.
Five species of marine turtles are known to visit the Pakistani coast — leatherback turtle, loggerhead turtle, hawksbill turtle, Olive Ridley and green turtles.
Green sea turtle and Olive Ridley are known to visit the Pakistani coast for nesting particularly at Sandspit and Hawkesbay in Sindh and Ormara, Astola Island and Jiwani in Balochistan.
“There has been little evidence on Olive Ridley’s nesting and breeding in Pakistan since 2012, which may be a sign of species’ local extinction. The assessment conducted by the WWF-P, however, has showed a good population of the species in Pakistan’s offshore waters,” it said.
The Indus River system is home to eight species of freshwater turtles while two species of tortoises also exist in Pakistan.
Marine turtles play an important role in the ecology and well-being of coastal and open ocean environments throughout their life cycle and it is very much in the interest of humans to work for their conservation, experts say.