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No. 133, 29th May 2014

1. Bangladesh: Endangered River Terrapins Nesting in Bangladesh

SOURCE: - DATE: 15th May 2014

In Bangladesh, one of the world’s rarest turtles, the Sundarbans river terrapin (Batagur baska), is having another good year.
From the Bhawal National Park facility near Dhaka, Bangladesh, facility manager A.G.J. Morshed reported that the first female B. baska nested on the 20th of April, laying 15 eggs. The second nest of 21 eggs was found the next day, and by the 1st of April, five of the six females had nested, laying a total of 101 eggs, of which 89 were set for incubation. Shortly thereafter, the sixth female also nested. All nests have been moved to a caged protected area on the beach for incubation, and temperatures are being carefully monitored in an effort to produce more females than in previous years.
This collaborative management program between the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), Vienna Zoo, and IUCN made tremendous strides in 2013 and 2014 due to strong support from the Columbus Zoo and SOS - Save Our Species.

Link to this web article online (English)



2. Myanmar: Record Nesting for Burmese Roof Turtle

SOURCE: - DATE: 15th May 2014

The joint Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) / Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) field team recently returned from the Upper Chindwin River in Myanmar where one of the world's most critically endangered turtles is making a remarkable recovery. Feared extinct until "rediscovered" in 2002, when three specimens were found in a pagoda pond, the Burmese roof turtle (Batagur trivittata) had not been seen by scientists since the 1930s. Surveys subsequently located a remnant population on the Upper Chindwin River – a major tributary of the Ayeyarwady - that has provided the foundation for this species' recovery. A combination of nest protection, headstarting hatchlings for future release, and captive propagation have pulled this species back from the brink, and over 700 turtles are now thriving in three assurance colonies.

Owing to the overwhelming success of this project and the burgeoning number of turtles in captivity, there is an urgent need to both expand the network assurance colonies and identify habitats where headstarted turtles can soon be released. Expanding the existing facilities in Limpha Village proved straight-forward and suitable release sites were identified in the Chindwin near Limpha and Nam Thalet Chaung, a tributary of the Chindwin where roof turtles historically occurred.

The 2013-2014 nesting season yielded a bumper crop of eggs: 150 from eight clutches were collected from four sandbanks. However, with fewer than ten mature females surviving in the wild, the future of this species remains precarious.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

3. Costa Rica: The Amazing Natural Phenomenon of Turtles Laying Millions of Eggs on a Beach

SOURCE: - DATE: 21st May 2014

"With the rising tide, at twilight, the ridley turtles arrive." French photographer Olivier Blaise has captured the incredible natural phenomenon of hundreds of thousands of sea turtles nesting, collectively, millions of eggs on a beach. Olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea), a medium-sized species of sea turtles found in warm, tropical waters, are known for their synchronised nesting in mass numbers, called arribadas. The mass nesting is an awe-inspiring event that brings huge numbers of female sea turtles to shore. While at first only a few hundred turtles will descent onto the beach, within the next three to seven days, a steady stream of turtles arrive, reaching up to tens of thousands in the dry season and hundreds of thousands in the rainy season. Each female will leave 80-100 soft-shelled, white eggs. After five days, the turtles can leave up to 10 millions eggs on the beach.
The largest arribada recorded in the Ostional Nature Reserve in Costa Rica so far, took place in November 1995 when an estimated 500,000 females came ashore.

Link 1. to this web article online (English)

Link 2. to this web article online (English)

Link 3. to this web article online (Vietnamese)



© Olivier Blaiser

4. Vietnam: Call to protect softshell turtles in Vietnam

SOURCE: – DATE: 23rd May 2014

The Asian Turtle Program (ATP) yesterday released a call urging people to participate in the protection of giant soft-shell turtle species that are at the brink of extinction in Vietnam. The statement was broadcast on social networks after the appearance of photos showing a giant Asiatic softshell turtle (Amyda cartilaginea) being slaughtered. The species is listed as vulnerable under IUCN Red List 2012.

According to ATP, other soft-shell turtle species, such as Swinhoe’s softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), are also at threat from the same grizzly demise. Even the once more common Asiatic softshell turtles are increasingly threatened due to the high demand for food in domestic and neighbouring markets like China. The ATP urges individual to notify local authorities or call the free hotline of Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV): 18 001 522 when seeing or having information about the cases of hunting or collecting large turtle species in their surrounding.

Link to this web article online (English)



© Facebook


© P. Tansom

5. Asia: Alarming rise in Black Spotted Turtle trade across Asia

SOURCE: – DATE: 23rd May 2014

Illegal international trade of the Black Spotted Turtle (Geoclemys hamiltonii) in Asia has escalated over recent years and immediate action is required to stem the flow, a new TRAFFIC report has found. The species is known to be traded for meat, medicine and pets, although TRAFFIC’s research attributes the sudden rise in demand to the exotic pet trade. Over 1,960 animals were seized between January 2008 and March 2014. Of these, 95 per cent were confiscated in the final 15 months of that period. A seizure of another 230 turtles on the 14th of May underscored the seriousness of the threat. Royal Thai Customs officers in Suvarnabhumi International Airport found the turtles packed in unclaimed bags which had come in on a flight from Kolkata, India.

The Black Spotted Turtle is protected under national laws in its range countries and is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). All commercial international trade in this species is illegal.   
Seizure information indicates that shipments of the turtles from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan transit through South-east Asian hubs such as Bangkok and are destined for East Asia, in particular Hong Kong. The majority of couriers caught were arrested but only two of the 22 cases recorded resulted in successful prosecutions.

The report recommends improving enforcement and prosecution through multilateral and multi-agency coordination. Timely and detailed reporting of seizures to the CITES Secretariat and in the media, together with the outcomes of successful prosecutions, are also urged.

ATP NOTE: within the press release it states the number of Black Spotted Turtles confiscated on the 14th of May as 225.

Link to this web article online (English)

Link to this web article online (English)

Link to this web article online (English)

6. Thua Thien Hue province, Vietnam: Endangered sea turtle is released into nature thanks to foreign visitor.

SOURCE: - DATE: 25th May 2014

On the morning of the 24th of May 2014, the Thua Thien Hue’s Sub-Department of Aquatic Resource Exploitation and Protection in collaboration with the authorities of Lang Co town, Phu Loc district, Thua Thien Hue province released a 32 kg green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) into the wild.

Some foreign tourists observed the softshell turtle in Be Than Restaurant and quickly reported the animal to the authorities. Mr Ngo Quang Than, the restaurant's owner, stated that he bought the baby marine turtle from a fisherman in Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc District in 2009. After nearly 5 years, the turtle was 87 centimetres in length, 57 centimetres in width, and weighed from 3 kilograms to 32 kilograms. Chelonia mydas is listed in Vietnam’s Red Book and by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered (EN). After receiving the report, authorities worked together to persuade Mr. Ty to release the animal back to the ocean. Over the past period, in Thua Thien Hue province, six rare sea turtles including Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), and Olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) have been caught and released into the wild.

Link to this web article online (English)

7. Binh Thuan Province, Vietnam: Mourning bird does not want to leave the god turtle

SOURCE: - DATE: 26th May 2014

On the 26th of May 2014, a number of fishermen in Phu Trinh Ward, Binh Thuan province, Vietnam found a large turtle washed ashore under the Duc Thanh bridge.
Mr Duc, who witnessed the case, said that the turtle body was covered in blood when found. The turtle died from exhaustion shortly afterwards. Astonishingly, there was a black bird beside the turtle. No sooner had the fishermen brought the body on land that a bird swooped down from the sky and laid down beside the dead turtle. After seeing this the locals made a collection of donations to carry out a funeral ritual for the turtle. Finally the turtle was brought to and buried at Thuy Tu communal house, Duc Thang ward, Phan Thiet city. The bird was believed to be the turtle’s guardian, even in the afterlife. “It is likely that the tortoise has lived for hundreds of years as it was so large and heavy,” said the village elders.
ATP NOTE: the identification of the turtle species remains a mystery but this story highlights the important role superstition plays in Vietnam.

Link to this web article online (English)


8. Frankfurt, German: Nearly 100 exotic animals are found stuffed in suitcase

SOURCE: – DATE: 21st May 2014

Nearly a hundred exotic animals, including 55 tortoises, 30 lizards and an iguana, have been seized at Frankfurt Airport by custom officials, the German news site, the local, has reported.  They were found in a suitcase belonging to a Mexican man, who was travelling from Mexico City to Barcelona via Frankfurt.  The 90 creatures were valued between €50,000 ($68,039.97) and €60,000 ($81,647.96) and spokesman at the German Customs Agency told The Local that at least three of the animals have since died, one during the journey, and two others while attempting to be brought back to health at a nearby zoo. It was found that a pregnant arboreal alligator lizard had also laid eggs during the flight. The animals are now being cared for and the man is under investigation for violating the Animal Welfare Act and the Endangered Species Act

Link to this web article online (English)

© Thanh Long

© Dan Tri


© Lambretchs

9. South Africa: How many Tortoises do a pair of pied Crows Corvus alba need to kill to feed

SOURCE: – DATE: 25th May 2014

In a statement from BirdLife South Africa (BLSA) the potential impact of the increasing abundance of Pied Crows Corvus albus on South African biodiversity (BLSA) has been highlighted with some alarming results. During 2012 a pair of Pied Crows nested on a windmill in the Ceres Karoo, Western Cape, South Africa were recording rearing four chicks. An accumulation of carapaces of small tortoises was noticed beneath the nest – eventually 160 carapaces or parts thereof were counted. The following year four more chicks fledged from the same nest to join the rapidly increasing crow population. Alerted by the slaughter of the previous year, a thorough collection of carapaces established that at least 315 small tortoises had been killed to feed the chicks and parents.
This rate of predation is almost certainly not sustainable and any defenceless species will be equally at risk, including the eggs, nestlings and fledglings of many birds. The Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus) is locally extinct in parts of its original range and the remaining population is endangered (McLachlan 1978; Baard 1993). Heavy predation on tortoises by the White Raven (Corvus albicollis) (formerly called Cape Raven) has also been
described (Uys 1966).
The hard evidence of heavy predation on tortoises in order to successive broods of four chicks each is unlikely to be unique.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

9. Africa, Madagascar and Arabia - A little army of helmeted terrapins

SOURCE: – DATE: 21st May 2014

Dresden, 21st May 2014 Scientists at the Senckenberg Research Institute revealed that the African helmeted terrapin (Pelomedusa subrufa) actually comprises at least 10 different species. Until now, it had been considered to represent a single species, with a distribution spanning most of Africa, Madagascar and Arabia. The new classification also results in a revised assessment of its conservation status: at least one of the newly described species is seriously endangered.
Altogether, the scientists from Dresden examined approximately 350 turtles, 200 of which underwent genetic testing. Among others, they also genetically analyzed samples from museum specimens – some more than 100 years old. “Our results indicate that not one, but at least ten species are involved in this complex – and perhaps even more,” explains Professor Uwe Fritz, director at Senckenberg in Dresden. Our research shows that many distinct species are involved and that the distribution of each species is much more limited,” says Fritz. “Due to this, some of the species are probably much more endangered than previously assumed.” One of the newly described turtles may actually be threatened by extinction, due to severe water shortage in its home on the southwestern Arabian Peninsula.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)


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