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Authorities Just Thwarted A Massive International Turtle Trafficking Operation

More than 4,000 of the reptiles were rescued at a Peruvian airport. Authorities Just Thwarted A Massive International Turtle Trafficking Operation Serfor

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They’re cool armored reptiles that can live a long time, grow really big, and according to Aesop, defeat a rabbit in a long-distance race. Unfortunately, turtles are also frequently the victims of illegal schemes to feed the appetites of people in some regions who crave their meat and eggs.

One such operation was stymied, however, when diligent customs authorities at an airport in Lima, Peru, noticed something suspicious.

Thousands of turtles rescued

According to reports, officials spotted some irregularities in the export papers provided by individuals seeking to transport more than 4,000 turtles from Peru to Indonesia. A number of details, including ages and species, appeared to be off, and all of the animals were confiscated.

After a brief investigation, officials determined that more than 400 of them were South American river turtles, which environmental groups have pushed in recent years to reclassify as critically endangered. It was unclear from the information available how the would-be traffickers obtained the turtles.

The remaining reptiles were identified as Taricaya, or yellow-spotted river turtles, and although they were accompanied by export licenses, the paperwork listed their ages as between 1 and 3 years old and the turtles were clearly not that old.

The work is never done

While this recovery was unusually large, Peru’s National Forestry and Wildlife Service (aka Serfor) indicates that its officials recover thousands of illegally transported animals each year. In addition to turtles, traffickers often engage in schemes involving monkeys and parrots.

Thanks to the quick and decisive action in this case, none of the turtles rescued at the Lima airport had died as of the most recent updates available. They were transported to an approved facility nearby where they will receive the appropriate care until a more permanent home is found.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee December 21st, 2023
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