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No. 109, 6th December 2013

1. Poachers Are Using Scientific Papers to Guide Them to Their Next Victims

DATE: 2nd December, 2013

According to Laurel Neme at Mongabay, scientists discovering a new species have been inadvertently contributing to wildlife trading. Shortly after Bry an Stuart, who has discovered 27 different species of newts , described the previously unknown species Laotriton (Paramesotriton) laoensis in a scientific paper published in 2002, commercial dealers began collecting this Lao newt for sale into the pet trade. In essence, the dealers used Stuart's geographic description in the paper as a “roadmap” to find the rare newt. Collectors came from all over to the two tiny streams where Stuart found the newt and began illegally collecting the critters and selling them for over $250 a pop. And Neme says that Stuart's story isn't even that uncommon . This situation also happened with a turtle (Chelodina mccordi) from the small Indonesian island of Roti, which was so heavily hunted that today it is nearly extinct in the wild. What can researchers do to keep their work from endangering the species they've just discovered? Stuart suggests that they start working with local governments to figure out how to keep poachers away from these new species. And sometimes, it might actually be prudent to keep some information out of the public domain. For scientists who discover new species, the prospect of their science being used to gather and sell the species they so painstakingly described is a strange one. But species hunters have to start taking note of the other kind of hunters out there.

Link to this web article online (English)

Chelodina mccordi

2. The moon influences loggerhead turtle bycatch

DATE: 4th December, 2013

The brightness of the moon affects the bycatch of loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) in night sets during albacore tuna fishing in the western Mediterranean Sea, according to a study by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO). To reach this conclusion, researchers at the Oceanographic Centre of IEO Malaga analysed 138 night fishing operations, where 273 loggerhead turtle specimens were captured in 437,393 observed hooks. Previous studies suggested that there is a direct relationship between the increase in catches and the brightness of the moon. But this new study shows a relationship in the opposite direction: the higher the luminosity, the lower the loggerhead turtle capture. Scientists suppose that by increasing the luminosity the exposure of the longline also raises for other scavengers such as the cuttlefish, this competition could result in the turtles not finding as many hooks available. While the loggerhead turtle is able to follow the chemical trail of the bait, it is not very efficient in finding the bait in low light. So bycatches of turtles are significantly concentrated in daylight hauls.

Link to this web article online (English)

loggerhead bycatch

3. Quang Ninh province, Vietnam: Illegal transport of wildlife seized in Quang Ninh

SOURCE: – DATE: 28th November, 2013

On the 20th of November, 2013 at approximately 9:50 pm, the Management Customs Team No. 1 of the Quang Ninh Customs Department confiscated 127 turtles (weighing 157kg). The origin of the animals and species are unknown but 8 animals were reported to be listed in Group 2B of Decree 32 of Vietnam's wildlife protection law. All animals were transferred to the Forest Protection Unit of Mong Cai city for further investigation and handling.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

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