Local fishermen near Ormara waters on Balochistan coast have found an endangered species of a marine turtle called the Hawkbill for the first time. Last year another rare species called the Leatherback turtle was reported from Sur, Balochistan. The addition of the hawkbill turtle increases the diversity of marina fauna in Pakistan. Usually this attractive turtle is distributed widely from the African coast to the Persian Gulf as well as India and far-East Asian countries. It lives in mostly tropical and subtropical waters and has now been reported in Pakistan as well. The most distinguishing feature of the hawkbill turtle is its sharp and curved beak; it can grow up to 1m in length and weight about 80 kg.

Perhaps one of the rare turtles to possess this distinctive feature, the hawkbill turtle has a pair of claws attached to each flipper while their carapace is colorfully serrated and bony. The possible reason behind their appearance in our waters could be attributed to their habitual migration done to feed their offspring. Their endangered status is significantly created by human impact: Turtles are often caught in nets while in some countries, they are eaten despite international protected status.

WWF-Pakistan’s contribution and activism involving the protection of these endangered species is more than commendable. It has included the hawkbill turtle, among others, in the Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). According to it, any kind of import or export of the turtles is illegal. Similarly, capturing, killing or harassing the turtles is not allowed. WWF-Pakistan has also trained fishermen in the proper method of releasing marine life if it finds itself caught in fishing gears. Once the hawkbill turtle was spotted, it was released from the gear and safely returned to the waters. We hope Pakistan can contribute to providing a safe habitat for this rare and beautiful species, that has reached our shores in search of a home.