Your future children might never see these adorable Palawan turtles
The Philippines is blessed with numerous species of plants and animals. According to the Encyclopedia on Earth, our country is a megadiversity hotspot. While we are constantly discovering new species of animals, these poor critters are also located in threatening environments.
Despite efforts to stop the extinction of endemic animals in the Philippines, another species has come under threat: the Palawan forest turtle.
There are now only 3,000 Palawan forest turtles in existence, and because of their rarity, poachers sell them at very high prices in the black market.
The capture of these turtles is alarming: Annamiticus.com has recorded five different poaching activities in just a span of two months. They rescued 186 turtles all in all.
The turtles were most likely headed to Europe or North America, said Chris Shepherd, TRAFFIC’s Southeast Asia regional director.
“Southeast Asia is also seeing a booming increase in the exotic pet trade,” he said, “so it is not inconceivable that they were headed somewhere a little closer to home.” He said that no arrests have been made yet, although investigations are ongoing.
The turtles are being quarantined to make sure that they have not acquired diseases during captivity.
Palawan turtles had remained unseen since 1920, until its rediscovery in 2001. Aside from diminishing rainforests, illegal wildlife trade contributed to their demise.
Pierre Fidenci of Endangered Species International emphasized the importance of a follow-through in every conservation campaign.
“To succeed in saving the Palawan forest turtle, we must create core habitat protection zones where active patrols are conducted using local communities…Further inspections at ports, exchange transits, and other locations are necessary as well,” he told Takepart.com.
Aside from Palawan turtles, the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List also listed down 38 animal species that are critically endangered, according to their 2011 data. The list also included the Philippine crocodile, the tamaraw, and the Philippine cockatoo.