KARACHI: In what is considered the biggest consignment in the history of Pakistan, custom officials seized on Thursday meat of over 4,000 freshwater turtles being smuggled outside Pakistan.
"I am sure its world's biggest transportation of turtle meat and unfortunately this has happened in our country," an official said.
Officials believe that influential persons are involved in the smuggling and have assured that culprits will face strict punishment.
The freshwater turtle is declared a protected species; however, their smuggling is not uncommon.
Traffickers have previously exploited lax laws as only a fine of Rs50,000 has been imposed on an entire consignment in the past.
Recently, the Sindh wildlife department issued a notification that Rs50,000 would be imposed for each turtle caught during trafficking.
The turtles are called scavengers of water and their presence ensures purity of potable water.
"They (smugglers) are polluting our water and destroying nature," an official said.
Last year, over 200 turtles smuggled into China finally found their way back home to Pakistan, thanks to the collaborative efforts of Chinese authorities as well as the Gilgit-Baltistan and Sindh wildlife departments.
Read: Slow and steady: 220 turtles return from their Chinese Holiday
The consignment was seized in the neighbouring country during the last week of June 2014 after authorities received information on “unusual luggage” coming from Pakistan. When intercepted, experts determined the consignment contained 220 hard-shell turtles.
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