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In pursuit of the tortoise smugglers

02.02.2018
Příroda
Stuffed in suitcases or strapped to passengers' bodies, more and more rare species are finding their way on to the black market. But a radical new wave of wildlife detectives is on the case. By Rowan Moore GeretyIn February 2016, Richard Lewis, a wildlife conservationist working in Madagascar, was contacted by a veterinary clinic with an unusual request. "Someone went to a vet and said: 'Can you take a microchip out of a ploughshare?'" Lewis recalled. "So they called us."The ploughshare tortoise is one of the rarest tortoises on the planet: with fewer than 50 adults thought to be left in the wild, each one is worth as much as $50,000 on the global exotic pet market. Like gold or ivory, their very rarity is part of what drives smugglers' interest. Lewis runs the Madagascar programme of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, which operates a captive breeding site where ploughshares are reared for more than a decade before being released into the wild. Both buying and selling ploughshares, or keeping them as pets, is illegal, and the breeding site is heavily defended, with barbed wire and round-the-clock armed security. As a further measure against smuggling, the organisation implants every ploughshare it encounters with a microchip. Anyone hoping to remove the microchip is likely to be involved with tortoise trafficking. Continue reading...
Zdroj: The Guardian

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