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Author Topic: The plight of Tortoises.  (Read 2583 times)

Offline Don_1

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The plight of Tortoises.
« on: 28/08/2008 14:09:35 »
I would like to make an appeal to you. But first a little history.

Many years ago an array of exotic animals became fashionable as pets. The capture of these animals to fulfil the demand by the pet trade and its customers devastated wild populations of many species. This, along with the slaughter of other animals for ivory, supposed aphrodisiacs, fashionable decoration of homes and bodies and many other lame excuses and the wanton destruction of habitats to satisfy manís relentless expansion and desires, led to the formation of the WWF, CITES and other such national and international organisations.

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) was conceived in the 1960ís and signed by 80 countries in 1973. Today more than 30,000 species are covered by the convention. Itís aim (in a nut shell) is to protect endangered species.

One of the animals facing the threat of extinction, due to the pet trade, was the Tortoise. Literally millions of these slow and easy to capture animals were collected from the wild in sacks, then transferred into wooden crates of 50, 100 or more individual animals stacked one top of the other to be shipped around the world to satisfy demand. It is estimated that less than 10% of these animals survived the journey. Many died by being crushed by the weight of those stacked on top of them, others choked on the faeces and urine of those above them, or suffocated, died from dehydration, stress, mishandling etc. Of the survivors, it is again estimated that fewer than 10% survived their first year in captivity. Who knows how many didnít even make it as far as the wooden crate.

CITES did not come a moment too soon for these poor unfortunate creatures. The UK (along with the USA, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Turkey and many others) is a full signatory to the convention. It is now illegal to take or import Tortoises from the wild in these countries. It is, however, legal to import Tortoises bred from captive stock into the UK. It is here that we have a problem.

The admission of former Soviet & Yugoslav states (Slovenia in particular) into the European Union has opened the boarders between these not so wealthy nations and the other affluent member states. They are looking to capitalise on their membership in any way they can. Tortoises have once again become a commodity.

At the time of import into the UK they are claimed to be captive bred or farmed animals. But the sheer number of animals being imported belies the claim of captive bred and the term Ďfarmedí can simply mean that an animal on a piece of private land is a farm animal. It is not; it is a wild animal on private land, just as the Sparrows and Hedgehogs visiting your garden are wild, not your property.

DEFRA, the UK government department responsible for this matter, does not have the resources to check these claims, therefore, these illegally captured and imported animals are legalised when they enter the UK. They are traumatised by the journey, often infected by worms, protozoa and/or Chelonian Herpes.

As if the poor Tortoise has not suffered enough already, they are usually sold by pet shops with no knowledge of how to keep them and with incorrect housing. If any care sheets are available, they too are usually at best misleading and often wholly wrong. Worse still, many suffer the misfortune of being sold via the internet and are packed in cardboard boxes and sent by parcel carriers to the buyer.

Each individual signatory nation to CITES is responsible for implementing itís own national laws to meet itís obligations to the convention. At present UK law does not make the import of captive bred animals illegal. A mere declaration that animals have been bred in captivity or farmed is all it takes to get around UK law.

The Tortoise Protection Group is seeking to petition the UK government to make the import of ALL Tortoises for the commercial trade illegal. As a Tortoise keeper, I whole heartedly support this call and ask you to go to http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/769012123 and sign the petition.

Still need convincing? See some of the appalling conditions suffered by these poor creatures at http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=796eTGg-8UE

Whether or not you sign the petition (although I beg you please to do so), thank you for reading this.


 

Offline BenV

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The plight of Tortoises.
« Reply #1 on: 28/08/2008 14:36:32 »
I recommend you never go to the markets in Marrakech.

As a fellow tortoise owner (by proxy - she was my gran's tortoise, and out lived my gran, but although gran passed her down to me, she lives at my parents house),  do you have any good info on keeping a tortoise?  I've just bought my own house, and so have a garden for the first time, and I may collect my inheritance soon.
 

Offline Don_1

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The plight of Tortoises.
« Reply #2 on: 28/08/2008 16:04:37 »
Sadly Marrakesh is not the only example of this trade. In fact you can find one such event in Hamm,Germany. An event condemned by the Tortoise Protection Group amongst others for it's unsuitability for reptiles, and condemned by myself, as an exhibition contractor, only too aware of the hazards of such events.

I cannot give you any tips on keeping your new family member since it will depend on which subspecies it is, Hermann, Horsefield, Spur Thigh, Red Foot etc etc. But I would point you in the direction of The Tortoise Trust. Probably the UK's foremost authority on keeping Tortoises.

Go to www.tortoisetrust.org

Other sites you may find useful are http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/TortoiseNutrition/ http://www.tlady.clara.net/TortGuide/index.htm http://www.tortoise-protection-group.org.uk/site/1.asp and the forum I founded www.tortoisefirst.com which is a good place for a little light banter as well as asking questions of other Tortoise keepers.
 

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The plight of Tortoises.
« Reply #2 on: 28/08/2008 16:04:37 »

 

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