The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has noted media reports where it is alleged that some people are illegally selling red-eared slider turtles through the internet.
The red-eared slider is one of the American turtle species (Trachemys species) currently listed as Category 1b in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act Alien and Invasive Species Regulations of 2014. In terms of this category of listing, such species must be controlled, and may not be sold, transferred, bred or in any other manner allowed to invade.
The efforts to sell red-eared sliders through the internet are therefore illegal, and an offence in terms of the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations. Such offences may result in a fine of up to R5 million for the first offence and/or a jail sentence.
The Department is engaging the administrators of the website where the trading allegedly took place with a view to ban adverts for sales or exchange through their platform.
The DEA is reconsidering the listing of red-eared sliders, moving it from Category 1a to Category 2. This will enable people to keep red-eared sliders, but they may not sell, breed, release or otherwise cause the movement of these turtles from the approved enclosures in which they are kept. If there is no Permit for the red-eared slider, it is then automatically categorized as Category 1b, and must be controlled as indicated above.
Members of the public are urged to avoid the spread of listed invasive species, as these may cause extreme damage to ecological functioning of systems, biodiversity and the economy.
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