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New CITES Regulation Bans Export of Heosemys from Laos

Last month, on 7 September 2012, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) issued trade suspensions on both Heosemys grandis and H. annandalii leaving Laos. Both species were previously regulated under CITES Appendix II, a status for species that may not necessarily threatened with extinction in the immediate future, but if trade is not monitored closely, the species could be at risk. However, the Giant Asian pond turtle (Heosemys grandis) is listed as vulnerable by both the Vietnamese and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, and Yellow-headed temple turtle (Heosemys annandalii) is considered endangered by both Red Lists as well.

Due to high levels of trade in Heosemys across the Laos border the Standing Committee of CITES agreed at the convention in July 2012 that no permits will be granted under Article IV of the Convention for either Heosemys species to be traded or exported from Laos.

The reasoning behind the listing is that both of these large, (semi) aquatic species of turtle are threatened with extinction due to the ongoing Asian turtle crisis. This crisis stems from Chinese markets exhausting local populations of turtles and now extending their reach farther into Southeast Asia trying to satisfy their insatiable appetite for turtle meat. This ruling will ideally stop the trade and trafficking of these turtle species through Vietnam en route to Chinese markets. This is certainly a step in the right direction for turtle conservation in Southeast Asia.

The Asian Turtle Program, along with Forest Protection Department (FPD) of Vietnam has been doing its best in recent years to educate the public regarding laws that prohibit the sale and trade of turtles species in Vietnam, including CITES regulations (Decree 82/2006/ND-CP) and the principal wildlife protection law in Vietnam, Decree 32/2006/ND-CP.


Press release by – Asian Turtle Program (ATP)

Date: 2nd October 2012

Above: A Heosemys grandis basking at the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam. This individual was confiscated from the trade in the past. IUCN has now suspended the trade of this species from Laos, along with the congeneric H . annandalii

Source: CITES Trade Database, UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, UK


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