India’s pitch for greater protection of Leith’s softshell turtle adopted by CoP
The CITES Appendix I listing of this turtle species would ensure that legal international trade in the species does not take place for commercial purposes
India’s proposal for transferring Leith’s Softshell Turtle from Appendix II to Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) to provide greater protection has been adopted by the Conference of Parties (CoP) to CITES in its 19th Meeting at Panama, the union environment ministry said on Thursday.
Leith’s Softshell Turtle is a large freshwater soft-shelled turtle which is endemic to peninsular India. The species has been subject to intensive exploitation over the past 30 years.
The CITES Appendix I listing of this turtle species would ensure that legal international trade in the species does not take place for commercial purposes. It would also ensure that international trade in captive-bred specimens only takes place from registered facilities and further that higher and more proportionate penalties are provided for illegal trade of the species, said the ministry.
According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN), the population of this turtle species is estimated to have declined by 90% over the past 30 years and is classified as ‘critically endangered’. It is also been illegally traded internationally from India for its meat and calipee.
“Species-level identification of seized specimens is also a challenge. Tortoises and freshwater turtles are targeted for the international pet, meat and calipee trade, as well as for illegal domestic consumption in some areas,” the environment ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
The 19th meeting of the CoP to CITES is being held in Panama from 14th to 25th November 2022. India’s proposal for the inclusion of the Jeypore Hill Gecko in Appendix II and the transfer of the red-crowned roofed turtle from Appendix II to Appendix I of CITES has also been adopted by the CoP in this meeting.