Pakistan

Citizens rescue 42 freshwater turtles along Karachi beach

KARACHI: A large number of abandoned freshwater turtles were spotted by citizens of Karachi residing near Sea View, which were later handed over to the Sindh Wildlife Department for release into their natural habitat. 

According to press statement of WWF, A total of 42 black spotted turtles (Geoclemys hamiltonii), classified as vulnerable according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, have been recovered so far, while around 15 were reported to be dead. It is believed wildlife traffickers discarded the freshwater turtles in jute bags at Sea View on 7 October 2015. Zoe Viccaji singer and former WWF-Pakistan Earth Hour ambassador and Rachel Viccaji, Coke Studio singer rescued nine turtles from the beach.

While travelling in the area, the pair saw a few turtles by the road side and rescued them. A number of turtles were struggling for life, while a few were already dead. They further informed that 13 turtles were rescued by CBM life guards, which they collected and handed over to WWF-Pakistan. While, 18 black spotted turtles were rescued by Aftab Ahmed, a Karachi resident, who also handed over to the species to WWF-Pakistan.

The international trade of freshwater turtles is considered a lucrative business, and is beginning to cause pressure on freshwater turtle populations across the country, putting the long-term survival of several species at risk.

There are eight species of freshwater turtles found in Pakistan, of which five are globally threatened. However, wildlife traffickers often take advantage of weak enforcement in this regard. The provincial and federal government has taken several effective steps in revising their legislation and developing and approving policies in this regard while implementation remains a challenge.

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