Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Trafficked turtles and tortoises returned to the wild

A new initiative to return trafficked reptiles to the wild has been launched with the successful release of 79 turtles and 10 tortoises in the Peruvian Amazon. A collaboration between Animal Defenders International (ADI), government authorities ATFFS Lima, the Regional Government of Madre de Dios, and organizations IRUPA, UPA, and Animal Voice, the release is intended to be the first of many, ensuring the future survival of the species. Sponsorship for the relocation of the animals to Taricaya Ecological Reserve was kindly provided by publishers Bizarro Ediciones and UPA.

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “It is such a joy to see these animals go back to the wild where they belong. A life of captivity is no life for a wild animal, and we look forward to returning many more to the habitats from which they were torn.”

ADI veterinarian Ines Nole, who assisted in the relocation said: “We are very happy to give these animals their freedom and hope it will help highlight why wildlife should not be traded or kept in our homes”.

IRUPA coordinator and veterinarian Milagros Ramos who helped care for the turtles, and assisted with their relocation said: “This is a new beginning and it is immensely satisfying to know that we can rehabilitate more turtles and tortoises, giving these neglected species the attention they deserve.”

Wildlife trafficking is one of the biggest problems faced in Peru, and the authorities have sought the help of ADI and other animal protection groups as part of their efforts to end the illegal trade.

Most of the yellow-spotted river turtles, a species listed as ‘Vulnerable’, were seized from traders keeping them illegally in tubs, fish tanks or buckets. Sold as pets, members of the public are mistakenly advised the animals are easy to care for. Rehabilitated at authorized establishments in Lima over several months, the turtles, and tortoises, were transported to Taricaya Ecological Reserve near Puerto Maldonado, where they were released.

ADI has previously worked with the Peruvian authorities to enforce a ban on wild circus animals in Peru; during the mission over 100 animals were rescued from circuses, and the illegal wildlife trade, including lions, bears, monkeys and other animals. Native species were rehomed in their natural habitats, while the lions were returned to their native Africa, and a tiger to a sanctuary in Florida.

Taricaya Ecological Reserve is home to Andean bears Cholita, Dominga, Lucho and Sabina, who had been torn from the wild as cubs, and were trafficked, before being rescued by ADI from three separate zoos. It is also where Lily and Luciano, rescued by ADI from the illegal wildlife trade, were taken to join a spider monkey rehabilitation program. As wildlife officials cleared the group of seven monkeys for wild release, Lily gave birth to Litanji and two months later the family were taken to a safe release site with the rest of the group where they are now living free.

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