Richard Thomas, global communications coordinator for TRAFFIC, an international wildlife monitoring network, is also concerned for the future of the radiated tortoise.
“The scale of the seizure clearly illustrates the potentially devastating impact harvesting of protected species can have on populations,” Thomas told The Dodo. “In some parts of its range, as few as 27 radiated tortoises occur in every square kilometre of suitable habitat: that means as much as 400 square kilometres could have been completely cleaned out of the animals [with this recent seizure].”
“People native to the radiated tortoise areas have a taboo against harvesting them: so who was behind their collection and where were they destined — for domestic consumption of overseas markets?” Thomas asked. “If the latter, where, and who was orchestrating their transport and onward distribution?”