Rare albino turtle stolen from Sri Lanka may be in Maldives

A rare albino turtle stolen in Sri Lanka could have been smuggled in to Maldives, Sri Lankan media has reported.

The five year old turtle, weighing 9.5 kg, 60cm in length and 35cm in width was reportedly stolen from a private turtle conservation center in Kosgoda. It was reported as missing on Sunday night, and is said to be worth USD250,000 – 300,000.

Sri Lankan news website “Hiru Newsquoted Wildlife Resources Conservation Minister Vijith Vijithamuni Soyza as saying that he believed the stolen turtle could have been smuggled into the Maldives.

Owner of the conservation center Chandrasiri Aabru suspects involvement of a Sri Lankan vocalist Amal Perera. According to Chandrasiri, Amal had shown an interest in buying it, visiting the turtle with a Maldivian friend to whom he requested it to be sold.

Sri Lankan police have summoned and questioned Amal on this matter. The Wildlife Conservation Department says Interpol help will be sought if it was in fact smuggled out of the country.

Catching, killing, importing and the sale of turtles and turtle products have been banned in the Maldives since mid-nineties. However, the implementation of these bans is weak.