Will the illegal trade of the critically endangered Philippine forest turtle lead to its extinction?By Andreas Rytz, Endangered Species International
May 04, 2009
During many visits, ESI staff encountered between two and ten Philippine forest turtle for sale at each market totalizing 171 animals over the 4-year period. The turtles were not sold openly as they were prior to 2005; instead, they were kept hidden in the back of stores and brought to potential buyers only when it was felt that there were no risks involved. “We continuously observed S. leytensis in all major pet markets in Manila, demonstrating that the domestic illegal trade remains rampant and has not decreased over the years, that brings this unique species closer to extinction” said Pierre Fidenci, head of Endangered Species International.
Philippine forest turtle. Photo courtesy of Endangered Species International
Illegal trade of the Philippine forest turtle at a pet store in Manila. Photo courtesy of Endangered Species International
Overall, illegal collecting of the Philippine forest turtle is the most prominent factor contributing to the sharp decline of the species. Despite international and national laws designed to prevent exploitation of the critically endangered Philippine forest turtle, this species has been sold illegally for domestic and international trade for almost eight years now. Trade is still rampant and the species is being sold in the Philippines, North America, Europe, and Japan.
The ongoing level of trade highlights the failure of past and current activities to stop or reduce illegal trade. Targeting known illegal traders in Palawan should be a priority, but no legal actions have yet been undertaken by local authorities or other concerned organizations. “We have been watching the numbers going down and now it is time for real actions to stop the illegal trade of the Philippine forest turtle” said Pierre Fidenci.
Endangered Species International.