Turtle talk: ‘Wildlife smuggling second-best funding for terrorists’

More than 200 turtles that were found at Karachi Airport last year


Our Correspondent March 25, 2015
More than 200 turtles that were found at Karachi Airport last year and the meat of over 4,000 others found in Thatta this year. PHOTO: SINDH WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT

KARACHI:


After drug mafia, wildlife smuggling is the second-best means for terrorists to raise funds, claimed provincial conservator Javed Ahmed Mahar on Wednesday.


He was addressing the media after the end of the two-day sea turtle symposium in Karachi organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). “Wildlife smuggling is the biggest means of funding for terrorists after drug mafia,” he said. “Terrorists use it because it’s safer than smuggling other things and the returns are higher.”

IUCN’s regional director for Asia, Aban Marker Kabraji, was on the same page with Mahar. “It is not just a question of animals going across,” he said. “It is now related to the criminal mafia who are part of a lot of criminal activities. It is the most lucrative trade in the world and is in line with drugs, arms and human trafficking now.”

Talking about the more than 200 turtles that were found at Karachi Airport last year and the meat of over 4,000 others found in Thatta this year, lawyer Faisal Siddiqi said that the court has issued directions to the government to implement laws for the conservation of wildlife. According to him, the government is bound to investigate cases regarding turtle smuggling and to ensure safety and protection of wildlife. “Contempt proceedings will be held against the government if this judgement is not implemented.”

Forests inspector-general Syed Mahmood Nasir said that a Pakistani turtle is sold for $70 per piece in Hong Kong.

“If the exit points or routes are controlled and monitored, this smuggling can be controlled,” insisted Mahar. “The marine fisheries should be included in the checking process at airports as it is a joint responsibility.”

Stressing the importance of the role of turtles in the environment, Mahar said that the presence of these sea creatures in the waters helps maintain cleanliness. “If they are not there in the water, even if we spend millions of dollars, we wouldn’t be able to clean it,” he said. “The diseases prevalent in interior Sindh are a result of this dirty water.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2015.

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