Tortoises as exotic delicacy?

27 May 2022 11:53am
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KUALA LUMPUR – The demand for 'order testudines' tortoises has increased as pets and exotic food, contributing to its extinction.

Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said there were 94 species of tortoises covered under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

He said that from the number, 47 were listed under the protected species (under the First Schedule) while the remaining were listed to be fully protected (Second Schedule)

"The decreasing number was mainly due to destruction and reduction of the habitat as well as capturing of the tortoises illegally to be sold in the market.

"Perhilitan also found out that there is a demand for this reptile as a pet in addition to demand as an exotic food in the domestic and foreign markets," he told Sinar Harian in conjunction with the Turtles and Tortoises Day.

He said Perhilitan did not deny there were illegal activities of trading and smuggling of tortoises, but it mostly involved species from overseas.

Abdul Kadir said the value of the tortoises depends on the species, it could be as low as RM50 and up to RM2,000.

"Referring to the data recorded, starting in 2016 to 2021, a total of 31 illegal sales and smuggling activities were recorded involving a total of 15,945 tortoises from various species such as Red-eared Slide, Radiated Tortoise, Indian Star Tortoise, and Ploughshare Tortoise.

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"Arrests and detentions were made either by Wildlife parties or other enforcement agencies at the country’s entrance such as the Customs Department and the Immigration Department," he said.

Abdul Kadir added Perhilitan had partnered with various enforcement agencies to prevent wildlife poaching activities.

He said Perhilitan also collaborated with the Malaysian Veteran Army Force and the indigenous people to place about 800 staff in nearly 100 enforcement control posts and illegal hotspots for hunting.

"The Wildlife Crime Unit had conducted checks at premises in the business of selling wildlife and investigate complaints received from various sources.

"Besides that, we have also set up a Cyber ​​Crime Unit to monitor promotional activities and the sale of wildlife regularly online, "he said.

He said any individuals who were involved in hunting activities, selling or keeping any of the wildlife listed in Act 716 without any license permit or special permit can be fined up to RM1 million and jail up to 15 years.

"We advise the public obtains a license or a valid permit if engaged in storing activities or buying and selling that wildlife listed in Act 716.

"We will continue to improve our enforcement to prevent hunting activities or illegal smuggling of species turtles," he said.