MANILA, Philippines – Eighteen freshwater turtles from Palawan, which were allegedly smuggled to China, have been repatriated to the Philippines, authorities said.
|Former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri of Katala Foundation,
DENR director Theresa Mundita Lim and Palawan Governor
Baham Mitra present to media the endangered turtles.
Photo by Raoul Esperas
Last February, a Hong Kong national attempted to smuggle the turtles to mainland China but it was intercepted and confiscated at the Hong Kong airport.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said there are approximately 120 Palawan freshwater turtles in existence today.
Because they are rare, they are very valuable to collectors.
Palawan officials are concerned about the increasing incidents of smuggling of Palawan freshwater turtles.
They blame illegal traders from China and Vietnam.
The turtles were turned over to representatives of the Katala Foundation on Friday.
Katala will transport the turtles back to Palawan and ensure the return to its natural habitat.