Palawan Turtle Crisis

large male leytensis released

Philippine Forest Turtle

Of the 4,000 turtles confiscated, nearly 3,800 were critically endangered Philippine forest turtles (Siebenrockiella leytensis), endemic to the island of Palawan. Rediscovered in Northern Palawan in 2004, this species has a very restricted range. The numbers seized in this confiscation exceed the understanding of what the wild population was thought to be and sent shock waves through turtle conservation groups.

This extremely delicate and sensitive species was handled like “sacks of potatoes” and stored on concrete floors without food and water for a prolonged period of time in a Chinese-owned warehouse. The illegal turtle trade is  organized by the same syndicates that drive the trade of rhinoceros, elephants, tigers and pangolins in Southeast Asia.

Shown here, a large male S. leytensis released into the forest.