Asia-Pacific

Rare tortoise sold openly at Indonesian expo

A pet shop employee shows a radiated tortoise, originally a native species of southern Madagascar during an annual flora and fauna expo in Jakarta, Indonesia
Image caption Indonesia tightened tortoise trade regulations in 2008

The most endangered tortoise in the world is being sold at an exposition in the Indonesian capital, highlighting concerns over Jakarta's illegal pet trade.

Ploughshare tortoises, of which there are fewer than 200 left in the wild, are among those on sale at the event.

Wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC says that Indonesia has emerged as a major trading hub for the animals.

The trade is lucrative, with some at the event priced up to $1,700 (£1,100).

Among those being sold at the plant and animal expo were the critically endangered radiated tortoise from Madagascar, the Indian star tortoise and the pig-nose tortoise from Indonesia's northeastern province of Papua.

Sellers told Associated Press that other turtles could also be obtained for a price.

'Lack of action'

Chris Sheppard from TRAFFIC said that dealers continue to flout regulations in Indonesia to trade threatened tortoises and freshwater turtles from Africa, South America and Asia.

"Recent surveys, and this expo, have shown that the trade continues and, in fact, now involves more illegally imported species than ever," Mr Sheppard told AP.

"Dealers know full well that it is illegal and are taking advantage of the enforcement agencies' lack of action."

In 2008, the Indonesian government tightened rules on the trade, ruling that all tortoise and turtle species listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) exported to Indonesia would require an import permit.

According to a 2008 report by TRAFFIC, the supply and demand of freshwater turtles and tortoises appears to be increasing throughout South East Asia.

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