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Rare pig nosed turtles seized

Rare pig nosed turtles seized

Two rare turtles native to the Northern Territory and New Guinea and highly desirable on the exotic pet black market have been seized after being illegally kept at a Mt Helena residence.

Department of Parks and Wildlife, with assistance from WA Police and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, seized one live and one dead preserved pig nosed turtle, as well as two illegally kept south west carpet pythons and an oblong turtle.

Pig nosed turtles are close to extinction in the wild, with poaching for the black market rampant due to their unusual features, including a protruding pig-like nose. They are the only freshwater turtles with flippers.

The seized turtles are believed to have originated from the Northern Territory.

Wildlife officer Cameron Craigie said pig nosed turtles were an internationally protected species and were worth at least $2000 on the black market.

“This extremely vulnerable species is being put at further risk by poachers and traffickers, who are driven by the prospect of monetary gain from supplying people wanting to keep them as pets illegally,” Mr Craigie said.

“Pig nosed turtles are very difficult to care for in captivity, as seen by the death of one of the seized animals, which became trapped in an aquarium pipe several years ago. This turtle, along with other animals, had been preserved in formaldehyde since its death.

 “The man who was keeping the reptiles illegally was intercepted while trying to sell the live turtle, and we expect to lay a range of charges under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

 “Parks and Wildlife is working with other agencies to curb the cruel illegal wildlife trade and has made significant progress recently, including preventing the export of more than 150 reptiles and amphibians to Europe in hollowed out books, cigarette packets and luggage.”

People with information about the illegal importation of reptiles or who notice any suspicious activity suggesting that reptiles are being kept illegally should call Parks and Wildlife’s Wildcare Helpline 9474 9055, Customs Watch on 1800 061 800, WA Police on 131 444, or Wildlife Trade Compliance on (02) 6274 1900.

 

Media contact: Parks and Wildlife Media 9219 9999

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Twitter: @WAPARKSWILDLIFE

Last modified on Thursday, 12 March 2015 10:16