Turtle trafficking up in Nepal

2012-02-28 14:47
Kathmandu - Trafficking of turtles to China from Nepal is on the rise, media reports said on Tuesday.

Smugglers have been trafficking turtles, many of them endangered, to the town of Zhangmu, just over the Chinese border north of Kathmandu, according to the Kantipur daily.

Trade in tortoises and turtles is prohibited in Nepal, where many species are facing possible extinction, including the red-crowned roof turtle, the three-striped roof turtle, elongated tortoise, and narrow-headed soft-shell turtle.

Traffickers are thought to catch the turtles in Nepal's plains, before taking them to Kathmandu, from where they are taken to Zhangmu for sale.

"We've been screening goods trucks passing into China more thoroughly to prevent the trafficking," district police chief Basanta Lama said.

Chinese buyers arrive at the border town two days a week to buy tortoises, which are sold for 15 000 rupees ($194) each.

An estimated 50 to 60 animals are sold each week, a local trader was quoted by the report as saying.

Some turtles are valued in China as an aphrodisiac and luxury ingredient, and often served in soup, the report said.

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