Tortoise Dealer faces jail

Reports and discussions on all aspects of tortoise and turtle conservation.

Re: Tortoise Dealer faces jail

Postby Chris Newman » Thu May 28, 2009 11:13 am

Andy,

You are of course entitled to your opinion, as am I! This debate is become a little circular, and a little pointless. However, let me just quite from just one of you many writings on the issue of the Slovenia farm:
One well-known dealer stated that he could easily obtain “5,000 tortoises a year with certificates”. There is, in our opinion, absolutely no way that this quantity could possibly be bred commercially within Europe. We find it far more interesting that the two countries most frequently involved, Lebanon and Slovenia, are better known for the ready availability of fraudulent CITES documentation than they are for genuine captive-breeding expertise!
It is not only tortoises that are suffering from this insidious trade. Genuine keepers involved in captive breeding are seeing their own animals passed over in favor of these readily available imports. Many people have invested years of effort in establishing genuine, high quality captive breeding operations. Such animals cannot be produced cheaply. They certainly cannot compete with unscrupulous ‘ranching’ operations that in no way meet the legal definition of ‘captive bred’.
http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/imports.html

The only comment that I will make is what you have said above is entirely inaccurate and untrue – I would suggest this entirely vindicates my comments as submitted.

I have a meeting next month In Slovenia with the authorities, I shall seek comment on your statement:

“Lebanon and Slovenia, are better known for the ready availability of fraudulent CITES documentation than they are for genuine captive-breeding expertise!”

I for one will be very interested to hear their views on your comments!

Chris
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Re: Tortoise Dealer faces jail

Postby Tamie Milne » Thu May 28, 2009 11:37 am

Chris

Somehow, once again, you have turned this thread into another discussion regarding the TT. :roll: This was about a dealer who was doing wrong, went to court and is being punished.

I do not think I am alone for one minute in questioning your motives to join this forum. Evidently you have personal issues with the fantastic work being done by the TT and will seek to express your 'issues' regarding it.

Andy has explicitly detailed his stand on what the TT believes in/supports, yet you still continue to put a spin on it/twist it ...

I would politely suggest that you do not hijack another thread for your own motives, start another - ask your questions, accept the answers given.

Tamie
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Re: Tortoise Dealer faces jail

Postby Chris Newman » Thu May 28, 2009 12:47 pm

Tamie Milne wrote:Chris

Somehow, once again, you have turned this thread into another discussion regarding the TT. :roll: This was about a dealer who was doing wrong, went to court and is being punished.

I do not think I am alone for one minute in questioning your motives to join this forum. Evidently you have personal issues with the fantastic work being done by the TT and will seek to express your 'issues' regarding it.

Andy has explicitly detailed his stand on what the TT believes in/supports, yet you still continue to put a spin on it/twist it ...

I would politely suggest that you do not hijack another thread for your own motives, start another - ask your questions, accept the answers given.

Tamie


Tamie,

I think there is some misunderstanding; I fully support the Tortoise Trust! I accept that we have some differing views, that is inevitable in life. One of those differences is that is that I support the legitimate trade in chelonian, and I support sustainable utilisation.

Chris
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Re: Tortoise Dealer faces jail

Postby Nadine Highfield » Thu May 28, 2009 2:50 pm

I think there is some misunderstanding; I fully support the Tortoise Trust! I accept that we have some differing views, that is inevitable in life. One of those differences is that is that I support the legitimate trade in chelonian, and I support sustainable utilisation.


Hi Chris,

If you support legitimate trade in chelonian, then you would be opposed to any illegal trade, correct? Yet, you seem to be very sympathetic to dealers convicted of illegally trading in endangered species. This is contradictory.

I would also like to hear what your idea of sustainable utilisation of wild chelonia would be. Could you explain?

Nadine
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Re: Tortoise Dealer faces jail

Postby Chris Newman » Thu May 28, 2009 3:53 pm

Nadine Highfield wrote:
I think there is some misunderstanding; I fully support the Tortoise Trust! I accept that we have some differing views, that is inevitable in life. One of those differences is that is that I support the legitimate trade in chelonian, and I support sustainable utilisation.


Hi Chris,

If you support legitimate trade in chelonian, then you would be opposed to any illegal trade, correct? Yet, you seem to be very sympathetic to dealers convicted of illegally trading in endangered species. This is contradictory.

I would also like to hear what your idea of sustainable utilisation of wild chelonia would be. Could you explain?

Nadine


Hi Nadine,

I have already stated that I am opposed to the illegal trade in tortoises, indeed to the illegal trade in any wildlife – hence being a member of PAW. The point that I have made is that there is a huge difference between the trade in illegally caught tortoises, and the illegal trade in legal tortoises, i.e. failure to comply paperwork. Clearly the later is reprehensible, but it is not a conservation issues as it is of know threat to wild populations. Again, as I said previously, I have no issue with this gentleman being punished for falling to comply with the paperwork requirements, that is the law and if you fail to comply then you should be punished, what I am appalled at is the disproportionate sentence. Sending someone to jail for a first offence for what is after all a very minor offence is unjustifiable, in my view. The bottom line is none of the tortoises he traded were illegally collected from the wild!

Most, if not all conversation bodies [not protectionist organisations] support the principles of sustainable utilization, the very hart of CITES. We are a signatory of CITES as is over 180 other countries. Sustainable utilization is, what is says on the tin - sustainable utilization of a natural resource, this is after all the only way to protect species and habitat.

Chris
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Re: Tortoise Dealer faces jail

Postby Tortoise Trust » Thu May 28, 2009 5:41 pm

[quote="Chris Newman"]
I have a meeting next month In Slovenia with the authorities, I shall seek comment on your statement:

“Lebanon and Slovenia, are better known for the ready availability of fraudulent CITES documentation than they are for genuine captive-breeding expertise!”

I for one will be very interested to hear their views on your comments!

Chris[/quote]

Starting with the Lebanon:

"According to the CITES trade database (http://www.cites.org) , between 1975 and 1994, about 9,200 star tortoises were exported with CITES certificates, mostly to Japan. Aware that wild-caught, smuggled Indian star tortoises were finding their way into international trade with export permits issued by some countries, CITES issued a Notification in 1994 recommending that its member countries should not accept any export or re-export permit for tortoises unless these documents were verified. There followed a five-year lull period (if about 270 animals a year could be called that) and then in 2000, Lebanon entered the picture and the total number of tortoises traded under CITES began rocketing.

The smugglers picked their country right — Lebanon is not a signatory to CITES and since 2003 has re-exported more than 9,000 Indian star tortoises claimed to be captive bred (in Kazakhstan of all places!). However, Kazakhstan, a party to CITES, has not reported exporting a single star tortoise since 2000 (the year it became party to CITES). Lebanon also exported 6,000 more tortoises without disclosing the source. There are only three countries in the world where the species is found — India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka — and in the last 12 years they collectively exported 1,038 star tortoises only. So where did the thousands of tortoises come from? All indications are that they came from India routed variously through Thailand and Malaysia with Lebanon laundering these illegally procured animals by providing fraudulent export documents"

Regarding Slovenia, the whole situation there is murky in the extreme.

Dular, for example regularly posts adverts offering various species for sale:

[i]"we are one of the largest tortoise producers in eu. our farm is located in slovenia. we specialize in hermanns tortoises but as well we breed other species like graeca,stars,pancakes,...wholesale dealers welcome.
all come with leggal eu cites."[/i]

The real question is where the breeding stock for all these was acquired from. Also, what the audit trail is documenting the numbers of the stock currently held. Dular was advertising FOR these species not long ago - which is very peculiar indeed.

In short - I am not satisfied that they currently meet the standards that any reasonable person familiar with the CITES definition could describe as "captive bred". Ranched might be closer to it.

Andy Highfield

PS: The offer stands that we are prepared to go there and verify their claims. If they have nothing to hide this would not be a problem - would it?
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Re: Tortoise Dealer faces jail

Postby Nadine Highfield » Thu May 28, 2009 7:53 pm

I have no issue with this gentleman being punished for falling to comply with the paperwork requirements, that is the law and if you fail to comply then you should be punished, what I am appalled at is the disproportionate sentence. Sending someone to jail for a first offence for what is after all a very minor offence is unjustifiable, in my view.


This was not his first offense... he was already on police bail when he was arrested. I'm sure that the judge took that into account before sentencing. They don't take kindly to people who show that kind of contempt for the law. And it was not a minor offense - the head of the NWCU actually described him as a "significant player in the illegal trade of endangered species". He wasn't just someone who failed to tick the right box on some paperwork. He knowingly purchased 200 Hermanns illegally, and made false statements to obtain permits to sell 191 Hermanns and seven spur-thigh - and made a profit of about £35,000? I actually think he got off easy... He'll probably be out in four months. And he's only been banned from possessing certain species for three years.

So, no... I don't have any sympathy for the man. And if you really support legitimate trade, you should be the first to condemn this kind of behaviour.

Sustainable utilization is, what is says on the tin - sustainable utilization of a natural resource, this is after all the only way to protect species and habitat.


Do you mean that a certain number of wild tortoises should be able to be taken from the wild, provided their collection does not endanger wild populations? If that is indeed what you have in mind, which species do you believe the trade should be able to collect, for what purposes (ie., direct trade, breeding stock) and how would you actually ensure that it is sustainable? Tortoises have a very slow reproductive rate, with low population recruitment rates in the areas they inhabit, and this makes assessing risks to any given population very difficult to ascertain. I would also say that the animal trade's history, and the way it has decimated wild populations of animals across the world, does not inspire confidence. So, I'm asking you for specifics on how you would proceed if given the opportunity?

Nadine
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Re: Tortoise Dealer faces jail

Postby Chris Newman » Fri May 29, 2009 10:52 am

Andy,

With regards to Slovenia, as you are aware the farm has been inspected by CITES, the German CITES authorities and indeed our own JNCC. The question of the authenticity of this farm is beyond any doubt. Nevertheless, I will extend your kind offer to inspect the farm to both the owner of the farm and indeed the Slovenian CITES management authority. However, in view of your protracted, and copious criticisms of both I am not hopeful they would be welcoming. I will be inspected the farm in the next few weeks, I will be more then happy to make more pictures of the farm available.

Chris
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Re: Tortoise Dealer faces jail

Postby Chris Newman » Fri May 29, 2009 10:59 am

This was not his first offense... he was already on police bail when he was arrested. I'm sure that the judge took that into account before sentencing. They don't take kindly to people who show that kind of contempt for the law. And it was not a minor offense - the head of the NWCU actually described him as a "significant player in the illegal trade of endangered species". He wasn't just someone who failed to tick the right box on some paperwork. He knowingly purchased 200 Hermanns illegally, and made false statements to obtain permits to sell 191 Hermanns and seven spur-thigh - and made a profit of about £35,000? I actually think he got off easy... He'll probably be out in four months. And he's only been banned from possessing certain species for three years.


I am very surprised to hear this was not his first offence, I would be most grateful if you could supply me with details of his former conviction as I am entirely oblivious to this fact.


Do you mean that a certain number of wild tortoises should be able to be taken from the wild, provided their collection does not endanger wild populations? If that is indeed what you have in mind, which species do you believe the trade should be able to collect, for what purposes (ie., direct trade, breeding stock) and how would you actually ensure that it is sustainable? Tortoises have a very slow reproductive rate, with low population recruitment rates in the areas they inhabit, and this makes assessing risks to any given population very difficult to ascertain. I would also say that the animal trade's history, and the way it has decimated wild populations of animals across the world, does not inspire confidence. So, I'm asking you for specifics on how you would proceed if given the opportunity?
[/quote]

That is the principles of sustainable utilization. As for the suitable species, that is for the various scientific authorities to decided and issue quotes – the whole purpose of CITES!

Chris
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Re: Tortoise Dealer faces jail

Postby Tortoise Trust » Fri May 29, 2009 11:21 am

Chris Newman wrote:Andy,

With regards to Slovenia, as you are aware the farm has been inspected by CITES, the German CITES authorities and indeed our own JNCC. The question of the authenticity of this farm is beyond any doubt. Nevertheless, I will extend your kind offer to inspect the farm to both the owner of the farm and indeed the Slovenian CITES management authority. However, in view of your protracted, and copious criticisms of both I am not hopeful they would be welcoming. I will be inspected the farm in the next few weeks, I will be more then happy to make more pictures of the farm available.

Chris


Yes, these are the same bodies who have repeatedly inspected (and passed as genuine) people who have subsequently turned out to be something very different from genuine. For example, the JNCC inspected the premises of Mike Linley a few years ago and declared there was nothing wrong. This was despite multiple allegations of illegal trading and importation being made. The truth finally came out when he was arrested in Australia:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2003/oc ... .australia

So, you may have confidence in them. I don't.

The authenticity of the farms is not "beyond doubt". I have serious questions that have never been answered.

I also do not have any confidence in any report you produce on the topic. You have proved yourself to be not only grossly inaccurate (misquoting import figures, for example) but also to be a liar when it suits you (misrepresenting the Tortoise Trust position on captive bred imports for example). Your own credibility on this topic is absolutely zero.

If they really are scared of a genuine inspection then they can continue to expect criticism and can continue to expect awkward questions to be asked.

Andy
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