The 609 Pig-nosed Turtles confiscated in Hong Kong in January this year have finally been returned to Maro River in Papua. All the turtles survived the long journey from Hongkong through Jakarta, then on to Merauke and eventually Bupul village in Papua.
The local people in Bupul were delighted to meet the team from International Animal Rescue Indonesia (IAR Indonesia) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) who accompanied the turtles on their long journey. They held a special ceremony dedicated to the future wellbeing and survival of the turtles. Over-exploitation had driven the Pig-nosed Turtle to extinction in the river.
Mr Arnold, Head of Bupul village, said: "It's a real privilege to be able to see and touch these turtles again. They have been extinct in this area for more than 30 years. We really hope that future generations will enjoy seeing them inhabiting the river and will continue to cherish and protect them."
All the pupils from the local school in Bupul participated in the release. They were thrilled to be able to set the turtles free and swim with them in the river.
Karmele Llano Sanchez, Executive Director of IAR Indonesia, said: "The repatriation of the turtles has been a complete success. We send our thanks to the Hong Kong and Indonesian governments for their eagerness to cooperate which made it possible for us to save them. Our grateful thanks also go to Kadoori Farm and Botanical Gardens (KFBG) who have taken care of the turtles since January and paid the entire cost of their repatriation and release.
"People in developed countries who like to buy exotic pets such as turtles should think hard about the effect this trade has on wild populations that are in danger of becoming extinct. Millions of turtles are captured and transported to supply the growing exotic pet industry and vast numbers of them die before they even reach the pet shops. It is a tragic waste of wildlife."
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