Sale Of IUCN Red List Species Of Turtles And Tortoises Continues In Indonesia

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Sale Of IUCN Red List Species Of Turtles And Tortoises Continues In Indonesia

The critically endangered ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora) was commonly found for sale in Indonesia.

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Researchers with TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network conducted market studies of the sale of turtles and tortoises in Indonesia and found that the trade of threatened and endangered turtle and tortoises species continues in markets throughout the Indonesian archipelago, according to a study released March 26 detailing the trade practices in the country.

Ploughshare tortoise

Ryan M. Bolton/Shutterstock

The critically endangered ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora) was commonly found for sale in Indonesia.

The study, "Slow and Steady: The Global Footprint of Jakarta’s Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Trade," notes that researchers 65 different species of tortoise and freshwater turtles for a total of 4,985 individuals that were for sale in just seven locations in Indonesia over a four month period.

According to TRAFFIC, close to half of the species found were threatened with extinction and are named on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The survey was conducted in 2015, which found more turtles and tortoises for sale than in the previous TRAFFIC studies conducted in 2004 and 2010.


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"If this trade and the open markets that sell species illegally are not made a priority for law enforcement action, many of the currently threatened species will be pushed closer to extinction,” Kanitha Krishnasamy, acting regional director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia said in a statement released to the media.

The survey also found a large number of non-native endangered species for sale in Indonesia, and noted that because these species, which included the critically endangered ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora) and radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata), both endemic to Madagasca, are not native to the country, they are not protected by Indonesian law. These two species have been protected and listed in the CITES Appendix I since 1975. The Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) also protected from harvest and trade, was the most common tortoise found for sale in Indonesia. 

“For international agreements like CITES to be effective, Indonesia must move to protect not only its native species but also non-native ones, especially those that have been repeatedly shown to be heavily trafficked within the country, Krishnasamy said.


The report said that Indonesia is in the process of revising its wildlife protection legislation  (Act No. 5, 1990) and its protected species list (Regulation No. 7, 1999). The authors are hoping that the country amends the laws to include non-native CITES listed species, and enforces any new laws that include these species.