A WAZA X-Mas Story:

Date: 2009/12/22


Famous Five back in Seychelles

Frankfurt/Bonn, 16 December 2009: In Frankfurt, the preparations for the relocation into the wild of five Hawksbill Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) is under way. In a joint action by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), the Frankfurt Zoo, the Main Customs Office Frankfurt Airport and Condor, the very rare sea turtles are to be flown back again to the Seychelles and here they will be relocated into the wild under expert supervision. In March 2009, customs officers at Frankfurt Airport had  seized five fertilized eggs of Hawksbill turtles which a passenger from the Seychelles had tried to import into the EU without the necessary permits for this highly protected species. The eggs were discovered by a customs sniffer dog who was especially trained for the "sniffing out" protected animals. 


The eggs were handed over to the Frankfurt Zoo and here they were able to hatch five eggs. The staff of the Frankfurt Zoo could clearly identify them as Hawksbill Turtles. This species is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora und is subject to particularly strict international protection regulations. Meanwhile, the hatchlings are already about 20 cm in size and they are healthy. Since turtles have a life expectancy of far more than 100 years the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation as owner of the animals has decided to relocate them into wild in their country of origin. However, such relocation into the wilderness is only possible if particular preconditions can be met. In this case they were fully met. After having received the unrestriced support of the Seychelles authorities the preparation for the relocation back into the wild could go ahead.


The Condor Airline had kindly agreed to transport the turtles free of charge back to Mahé. In coordination with the Frankfurt Zoo, Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, G.K. Airfreight Srervice GmbH (www.Petshipping.com) and the Seychelles authorities the date of the return flight was arranged for the 18 December 2009. Because of their exceptional value and for welfare reasons, the animals will be accompanied by a staff member of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (FANC) who after his arrival in the Seychelles, will ensure that all relevant administrative formalities will be undertaken. Furthermore, immediately after their arrival he will assist to take care of the five valuable animals for being temporarily housed in an appropriate manner at facilities at the Botanical Gardens in Mahé. Thereafter, representatives of the Seychelles authorities in the presence of the representative of the FANC will take care for that the turtles are being returned into the wild.


These days, many wild animal and plant species are threatened with extinction because of increasing trade. To fight this threat effectively, in 1973 the Convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) was first signed to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Currently, there are 175 parties to the Convention.


With „Council Regulation (EC) No. 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and Flora by regulating trade therein" the European Community implements uniformly the Convention (CITES) in all its member states.

The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP15) will be held in Doha, Qatar, from 13 to 25 March 2010.


A joint Action of BfN, Frankfurt Zoo, Main Customs Office Frankfurt/Airport and Condor.


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