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No. 125, 4th April 2014

1. Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, Vietnam: Where should the giant turtle be released?

Follow up Bulletin No.123 and ATP press release “30kg Asiatic softshell turtle (Amyda cartilaginea) caught in Hanoi

DATE: 22nd March 2014

In an interview with a reporter from the Dai Doan Ket newspaper Ms. Nguyen Thu Thuy – Vietnam Turtle Program Coordinator of the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) discussed possibilities for the release or transfer of the giant softshell turtle (Asiatic softshell turtle – Amyda cartilaginea) caught in Hanoi on the 17th of March. In the interview, Ms. Nguyen Thu Thuy explained that this species inhabits lakes and rivers in the southern and central provinces of Vietnam, The only way the animal could appear in Hanoi is because somebody has released it or it escaped from a farm. ATP suggested some options for the Asiatic softshell turtle: It could be returned to South Vietnam to its native habitat or transferred to the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park where two animals of the same species are already being kept and cared for. In the interview Mrs Thuy also provided some advice for locals and how to address the issue of the illegal trade in wildlife, giving the newspaper information about local wildlife and turtle protection agencies and which hotlines to be called. Mrs Thuy further explained that there are cases where wild animals and especially turtles are rescued solely through people's awareness.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, Vietnam: The giant Asiatic softshell turtle to be released into the owner's lake again

DATE: 24th April 2014

For the last couple of weeks experts, citizens and the owner of the Asiatic softshell turtle (Amyda cartilaginea) which was caught on the 17th of March in Hanoi, have been discussing where the large softshell turtle should be released. On the 21st of March, the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park notified the owner and the Forest Protection Department in Hanoi that the rescue centre was willing to receive the rare softshell turtle, however, due to troublesome administrative procedures; the animal has not been transferred to the TCC yet. With the animal is being out of its natural environment and the stress of being caught a solution to the problem has to be found soon.

ATP NOTE: ENV (Education for Nature - Vietnam) confirms that Mr. Quoc Anh, the owner of the Amyda cartilaginea, released the turtle back to the lake of the Vinh Hung Restaurant and Ecotourism establishment on the 27th of March.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)



2. Bangkok, Thailand: Recent seizures highlight trouble for Asia's tortoises and freshwater turtles

DATE: 27th March 2014

Hot on the heels of three major tortoise and freshwater turtle seizures in Asia comes another in Bangkok involving close to 300 animals and the arrest of two men suspected of smuggling them.

On 12th March, Royal Thai Customs officers discovered 218 Black Spotted Turtles (Geoclemys hamiltonii) and 54 Indian Narrow-headed Softshell Turtles (Chitra indica)  in check-in luggage. The two Indian nationals, who took a flight from Gaya and Varanasi in India to Bangkok, were due to board a flight to Macau when their luggage was checked and the animals found. Initial investigations show the end destination for the turtles was Hong Kong. The duo has been handed over to Royal Thai Police for further investigations.

The involvement of Thailand, India and Hong Kong in the illegal trade in rare tortoises and freshwater turtles was  highlighted earlier this year  when over a thousand specimens were confiscated from smugglers in three separate seizures. All three seizures passed through Bangkok, with at least two involving tortoises and freshwater turtles originating from India.

One recent seizures which took place on the 31st of January included a number of Black Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata), a species listed in Appendix I of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which therefore cannot be traded internationally for commercial purposes. Another case involved a further 65 Black Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata), discovered by Thai Customs and wildlife checkpoint officers at Don Mueang International Airport in unclaimed bags on board a flight from Chennai, India, along with 440 Indian Star Tortoises (Geochelone elegans). Both the Endangered Indian Narrow-Headed Softshell Turtle (Chitra indica) and the Indian Star Tortoises (Geochelone elegans) are listed in Appendix II of CITES, meaning any shipments must be accompanied by appropriate permits. Both species occur in South Asia and are known to be traded for meat and as exotic pets. India is not the only player in the trade from South Asia in tortoises and freshwater turtles. Seizures of cargoes in Bangkok originating in Bangladesh and Pakistan have also been recorded in the past 12 months. With trade dynamics that point to intra-regional movements of these species. In February 2014, 5,000 softshell turtles were seized in West Bengal en route to Bangladesh. 

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)



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