Wildlife Watch

Crime Blotter: Turtle Smuggling, Illegal Logging, and More

A weekly roundup of wildlife crimes.

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A Canadian college student pleaded guilty to smuggling or attempting to smuggle thousands of turtles out of southeastern Michigan. Red-eared slider turtles, shown here, were among the turtles seized by authorities. 


Every Sunday, Wildlife Watch notes some of the previous week’s wildlife crime arrests and convictions around the world.

TURTLE SMUGGLING: Kai Xu, a Canadian college student, pleaded guilty to smuggling or attempting to smuggle thousands of turtles out of southeastern Michigan, according to The Associated Press. Last year, authorities caught him with 51 turtles strapped to his body.

BIRD SMUGGLING: Wildlife authorities in East Java, a province of Indonesia, seized plastic baskets crammed with 2,711 live native birds from a docked passenger ship and arrested one person in connection with the incident, according to TRAFFIC, a wildlife monitoring organization. Authorities believe the birds were destined for Jakarta’s Pramuka Bird Market. 

RHINO POACHING: Police raids led to the arrests of 12 people allegedly connected to rhino poaching in Gauteng and North West, two provinces in South Africa, The Examiner Post reported. The raids were part of “Operation Ringleader.”

ILLEGAL LOGGING: More than 30 people have been arrested and accused of taking part in an illegal logging network in Gabon, the EAGLE Network announced this week. Those arrested include international loggers and government employees.

ENDANGERED SPECIES SMUGGLING: Police in Quang Tri Province in Vietnam said this week that they’ll release 40 endangered animals, including pangolins, tortoises, and weasels, back into the wild after discovering them in a car, according to Thanhnien News.

LIZARD AND BIRD SALES: A judge in Nagpur, India, sentenced seven people to prison for three years for selling live monitor lizards, green pigeons, quail, partridges, and other birds at a local market, reported The Times of India. Authorities caught the group in 2005.

BIRD HUNTING: A college student in Zhengzhou, China, was sentenced to prison for more than 10 years for poaching endangered birds, reported Xinhua News Agency.

Fact of the Week: In Gabon, 70 percent of harvested timber is estimated to be illegal, according to the World Bank (page 9).

This story was produced by National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on wildlife crime and is made possible by grants from the BAND Foundation and the Woodtiger Fund. Read more stories from the SIU on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback and story ideas to ngwildlife@ngs.org

Follow Jani Actman on Twitter.

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