6 thousand of endemic species Yaeyama Ishigame exported in one and a half years

6 thousand of endemic species Yaeyama Ishigame exported in one and a half years

Yaeyama Ishigame

March 3, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

Yaeyama Ishigame or yellow pond turtle is endemic to the Yaeyama Islands. It is speculated that only about 30,000 of them live on the islands. According to the Ministry of the Environment, about 6,000 Yaeyama Ishigame turtles were exported overseas between the period of June 2013 to February 2015. The turtles were mainly exported to Hong Kong for sale to the pet and food industry.

In a press conference after the cabinet meeting on March 3, Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuku said he would restrict export of Yaeyama Ishigame based on the Washington Convention, which outlines international regulations for the protection of endangered species. Yaeyama Ishigame will be the first domestic land animal in Japan with an export ban under the Washington Convention.

Yaeyama Ishigame was listed on the Washington Convention at a meeting held in March of 2013. In order to export the turtle, companies need to submit an application to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and obtain approval from the Ministry of the Environment.

The research carried out in Ishigaki and Iriomote Island by the Ministry of the Environment in 2014 fiscal budget showed that there were only about 30,000 individuals in the islands. Companies from inside and outside of Okinawa export the animals. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will decide it to ban to export the animals until the end of March.

(English translation by T&CT)

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