Turtle Species in Pakistan Face Extinction Threat
|Turtle Found dead on Golden Beach – Hingol National Park Balochistan|
There is a need to take steps for the conservation of marine and freshwater turtles in Pakistan, which have been suffering because of habitat degradation, entanglement in fishing gear, climate change, and illegal wildlife trade.
Five species of marine turtles are found in Pakistan, of which green turtles are the most abundant specie that nests along Pakistan’s coast. Other than marine turtles, as many as eight species of freshwater turtles and two species of land tortoises are found in the country.
The world has been celebrating World Turtle Day on May 23 since 2000. American Tortoise Rescue – a United States (US) based non-governmental organization, initiated the day to create awareness about turtles and tortoises. The day is marked across the globe to call for human action to help these reptiles survive and thrive in their natural habitats.
Also Read: Humans Are Just 0.01% of Life on Earth but No. 1 in Destruction.
There is evidence of turtles’ existence on the planet more than 100 million years ago. However, many species of the animal are now facing the threat of extinction.
The major threats faced by marine turtles in Pakistan include mortality during fishing operations, pollution, habitat degradation and climate change.
|Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani (Deputy Conservator of Hingol National Park) observing a dead turtle on Golden Beach|
The green turtles nest on sandy shores along the Sindh and Balochistan coast. In Sindh, important nesting grounds for the turtles are Sandspit, Hawke’s Bay, and Paradise Point, whereas, along with the Balochistan coast, Sonmiani, Taq in Ormara, Astola Island and Daran in Jiwani are the locations where every year thousands of marine turtles come to lay their eggs.
No confirmed report of the nesting of Olive Ridley turtles, another species which nested on Pakistani beaches some time ago, has been reported for the last 14 years. According to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) -Pakistan, the species is the most common species found in offshore areas of Pakistan.
See Also: The Most Comprehensive Video on Hingol National Park with English Subtitles
The WWF-Pakistan has planned to install satellite tags on these turtles in October 2018 that will help determine their migration and nesting grounds. The other three marine turtle species – loggerhead, hawksbill and leatherback turtles – have been found along Pakistan’s coast rarely, However, the WWF-Pakistan has some evidence of their occurrence and distribution along the coast.
Along with marine turtles, their freshwater cousins are also confronting serious threats, which include Illegal poaching, habitat degradation, water shortage, fragmentation of rivers and canals and fishing operations.
Export of freshwater turtle meat, which is banned, is considered as the main threat to these vulnerable species and it must be ensured that the ban on their meat export is implemented.
Through the efforts of Provincial Wildlife Departments, WWF-Pakistan, Pakistan Customs and other stakeholders, many consignments containing living freshwater turtles and land tortoise, and their meat have been confiscated. These agencies are keeping a vigil to control the illegal trade of the turtle species.
Pakistan agreed to comply with the US requirement of having turtle excluder devices in 1999. However, because of non-implementation, the US authorities have imposed a ban on the export of shrimp from Pakistan since May 2017.
Threats to Turtle Species in Pakistan
- Turtle species in Pakistan are rapidly dwindling due to rampant illegal trade; harmful fishing practices and misconceptions; water scarcity, mismanagement and pollution; and the steady loss of habitat.
- The exotic pet store owners and independent sellers trading endangered species on countless social media sites, websites, and even the dark web.
- Mortality of turtles is on increase because of ever-increasing gillnet fleets and ghost fishing gears.
- Many species of turtles are used as popular pets both within the country and internationally.
- Turtle shells and its body parts are smuggled for medicinal purposes, while their meat is considered a delicacy in several Asian countries.
- Freshwater turtles are confronting serious threats, which include Illegal poaching, habitat degradation, water shortage, fragmentation of rivers and canals and fishing operations.
How to Control Illegal Trade of Turtle Species of Pakistan?
- To combat the illegal wildlife trade of turtles, greater transnational cooperation is required, along with stricter enforcement of laws.
- In order to reduce entanglement of marine turtles in gillnet fishing gears, the gillnetting needs to be shifted from surface to subsurface gillnetting which can reduce turtle entanglements in gillnet by 95% because most turtle species inhabit surface waters. When nets are placed in the subsurface waters, turtles can easily swim over them.
- There is a dire need for creating awareness among the general public, especially youth, about the importance of land tortoises and freshwater and marine turtles in the ecosystem. The turtles are facing a serious threat of extinction mainly because of human activities and climate change.
- The fishermen need to be trained on how to safely release entangled marine turtles back in the water.
- Local communities must be given more stake in the conservation process, and steps need to be taken to combat poverty and encourage alternative means of livelihood.
- There is a need for effective monitoring of the country’s borders to ensure that the ban on the trade of turtles is effectively implemented.
Turtle Species in Pakistan – FAQ
What is the status of Fresh Water Turtle?
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the freshwater turtle is listed as a threatened species, and is subject to international trade controls.
Where Rare Snout-Nosed Reptile is found?
The rare snout-nosed reptile is only found in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and it is essential to the river ecosystems of the areas it inhabits.
How many species of Freshwater Turtles and Marine Turtles are found in Pakistan?
Pakistan hosts eight species of freshwater turtles and five marine turtles — all are protected under the wildlife conservation laws.
When is World Turtle Day celebrated?
World Turtle Day is celebrated on May 23 since 2000.
What are the names of five Marine Turtles species found in Pakistan?
The five marine turtle species found in Pakistan are: Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Leatherback Turtles, Olive Ridley Turtles, and The Green Turtles.
NJMH is working as Deputy Conservator of Forests in Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department (BFWD). He is the CEO of Tech Urdu (techurdu.net) Forestrypedia (forestrypedia.com), Majestic Pakistan (majesticpakistan.pk), All Pak Notifications (allpaknotifications.com), Essayspedia, etc & their YouTube Channels). He is an Environmentalist, Blogger, YouTuber, Developer & Vlogger.