The Philippine Forest Turtle (Siebenrockiella leytensis) has been listed as one of the most endangered turtles in the world, as new report shows thousands of them have been trafficked over the years.
TRAFFIC, the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network, reported that documented seizures on online and market trade of the turtle from 2004 to 2018 showed 23 incidents that resulted in the confiscation of 4,723 individuals. In 2015 alone, 83% of all animals seized in Palawan were almost close to 4,000 turtles. Meanwhile, no Philippine Forest Turtles were seized in 2019 and 2020.
Eight of the 15 seizure cases in Palawan happened in the Municipality of Taytay, which could mean it is the exit point of the Philippine Forest Turtle.
12 of the 23 recorded incidents involved the arrest of 21 suspected traffickers. But only two suspects were convicted, fined, and served jail sentences, including a man who was arrested twice in a year at the Hong Kong International Airport coming from the Philippines with about 157 turtles.
The turtle is widely popular with collectors and hobbyists since early 2000’s because of its uniqueness. For the past 15 years, the turtle has been illegally sold online, according to a study published in the Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology.
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