The Malaysian Box Turtle is in danger due to over exploitation, despite a government ban on its export since 2005. Since the ban, export of turtles for the pet trade to Japan, Europe and the United States has ceased. But there are widespread evidence of illegal exports to Honk Kong, China, and to a less extend, Singapore. Exotic meats from wildlife are often sought by China, and parts of the turtles are used in traditional medicine (amongst its uses are as aphrodisiacs).
There are no commercial breeding of the turtle in Malaysia because it is not commercially viable. To meet demand, turtles are taken from the wild at an unsustainable rate. An estimated 22,000 turtles are illegally export out per year from Malaysia, the majority of them beng adult box turtle – distinguished by three yellow stripes on the head and a dark olive carapace. A typical adult is 8 inches long. Unless this issue is addressed, they will disappear from the wild.
The Malaysian Box Turtle has a slow reproductive cycle, producing only a limited number of eggs in its 30 to 35 years lifespan. The Asian Box Turtle, including a wide range of box turtles are listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2000.
Traffic, a joint program of IUCN and World Wide Fund for Nature calls for better regional cooperation in controlling wildlife trade, in particularly at the borders of countries. The Deputy Director of Wildlife and National Parks Malaysia said it is difficult to stamp out illegal trade in wildlife and endangered species. Even if convicted, the perpetrator often gets away with a fine.
My personal opinion is that I do not know the mentality of the people who may have contributed to the extinction of a species. I do not see how we can accept it as a fact of life and survival of the fittest. If we have the means, we should contribute to the survival of the species.
Conservation News sourced from Daily Express Sabah.
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