Hundreds of rare turtles recovered in Palawan

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Just some of the turtles confiscated by authorities in Palawan on Sunday (October 18). (Photo: Keith Anthony S. Fabro)

Puerto Princesa (CNN Philippines) — Palawan environmental authorities confiscated Sunday (October 18), hundreds of rare turtles, again believed to be sold on the Chinese black market.

About 979 turtles were rescued from Joel Sulayaw, Gerald Favila, and Benjie Dimasupil on Sunday evening in Barangay Old Guinlo, Taytay, a town in northern Palawan.

The rescued turtles were comprised of Southeast Asian box turtles, Asian leaf turtles, and the Philippine pond turtle, listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as "vulnerable," "lower risk or near threatened," and "critically endangered" respectively.

The Philippine pond turtle is endemic to the country and native to northern part of Palawan. It faces very high risk of extinction.

The raiding team, composed of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) enforcers and members of the Provincial Law Enforcement Task Force, brought the animals to Puerto Princesa Monday (October 19) for inventory and proper disposition.

The suspect went through an inquest on Monday morning for illegally possessing the threatened wildlife species in violation of the Philippine Wildlife Act, Republic Act No. 9147.

Wildlife trafficking is not new in Palawan. On June 17, about 4,000 pond turtles were rescued in a warehouse of a Chinese trader in the southern town of Bataraza, in what is considered to be this year's largest poaching case in the country.

Wildlife trade in China's black market is a lucrative criminal activity. The going rate of turtle per head is ranges from P8,000 to P12,000, Palawan environmental watchdogs estimate.

In the province, traders previously bought these animals from locals for P60 to P70 a kilo, but because of its "sinking population" through the years, its pricing rose from P250 to P300 a kilo.