Endangered Turtles Bring Higher Profits for Pet Dealers

Jakarta's pet dealers love it when a species is endangered. That means they can charge higher prices for rare turtles and tortoises, according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund and the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC:

The TRAFFIC Southeast Asia survey covered 20 pet retailers in the greater Jakarta area and found 48 freshwater turtle and tortoise species, both native and exotic, were for sale. Of these, 26 were species featured on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List as threatened.

Almost all, according to the report, were harvested illegally.

Pet dealers told the survey team -- quite brazenly -- that a species' protected status was actually a marketing advantage. Endangered turtles and tortoises are in high demand, and therefore the dealers can jack up their prices.

Yes folks, capitalism is alive and well.

WWF and TRAFFIC are calling for a ban on imports of these rare species to curb the illegal trade, and for Indonesia to prosecute those illegally importing or selling them. Will anyone listen? Time will tell.