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Attempt to Smuggle 1,500 Turtles Is Foiled

July 17, 2002|From Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia — More than 1,500 Indonesian turtles bound for China--including the terrapin, an endangered species--were found during a routine search at Jakarta's international airport, customs officials said Tuesday.

The live turtles were discovered Friday and were probably destined for use in turtle soup, a favorite dish in China.

The shipment included 1,423 Cuoras and 113 terrapin turtles from Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo. Exporters need a permit from the Forestry Ministry to export Cuoras, also known as Asian box turtles, and the government bans sales of terrapins because they are a protected species.

Under a 1999 conservation law, the smugglers of endangered species face a maximum five-year prison sentence and a fine of about $11,000.

Customs officials said no arrests had been made in the case. They said legal action will depend on further investigation by the Forestry Ministry.

Turtle smuggling is common in Indonesia and has led to steep declines in the numbers of many species, especially green turtles.

This month, four men were arrested for attempting to sell 88 green turtles on the island of Sulawesi. In January, customs officials confiscated 329 turtles from Kalimantan being shipped to Hong Kong.

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