Indian Roofed Turtle © CLPramod

Indian Roofed Turtle © CLPramod


Published 23 May 2024


Rampant cyber trade in freshwater turtles and tortoise in the Philippines

There’s a flourishing and often illegal trade in freshwater turtles and tortoises on Facebook in the Philippines, a new study has found. And it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

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TRAFFIC researchers reported finding over 5,000 chelonians (turtles and tortoises) offered for sale in the Philippines on just 20 Facebook groups between 2019 and 2020. The findings were recently published in a paper in the Philippine Journal of Science.

The Critically Endangered Philippine Forest Turtle © Emerson Sy

Most of the turtles and tortoises found were not native to the Philippines and subject to international trade regulations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This included species completely prohibited from commercial international trade.

Also making an appearance online was the Philippine Forest Turtle, found only in the country and recognised as one of the world’s most threatened turtle species.  

Checks on the same groups over the first three months of this year showed a persistent and equally significant trade with more than 2,000 turtles and tortoises found for sale.

Highly sought after and frequently trafficked to fill the demand for exotic pets, chelonians are one of the most at-risk vertebrate groups.

Take a look at this storymap to explore the findings of TRAFFIC researchers Emerson Sy and Antonio Lorenzo who co-authored this study, observations on what it means for the species involved and the next steps they recommend for curbing the illegal online trade in these reptiles.

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