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No. 149, 19th September 2014


1. 'Third eye' helps sea turtles sense changes in seasons

SOURCE: – 12th September 2014

Each summer, leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) migrate thousands of kilometres from their tropical breeding grounds to feed in cooler waters. Yet how the animals know when to begin their long journey back south at the end of the season has mostly remained a mystery. New findings, to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, suggest that leatherback sea turtles may be able to sense seasonal changes in sunlight by means of an unpigmented spot on the crown of their head—known as the pink spot (pictured).

Link to this web article online (English)

2. New Mexico: More than 100 animals seized at Santa Fe home

SOURCE: – DATE: 12th September 2014

More than 100 animals, including macaws, tortoises and about 73 Irish wolfhounds, were seized Friday on six acres in Santa Fe. Crews found several dead animals, including a snake and a tortoise, and others in poor condition, some with no food or water, said Raequel Roberts, a spokeswoman for the Houston SPCA. The number of animals involved and the size of the Irish wolfhounds required the SPCA to make several trips, Roberts said. A handful of animals were taken to hospitals, with the rest going to the SPCA shelter in Houston.

Link to this web article online (English)

100 turtles seizure

© galvestondailynews

3. ‘Living fossils’ on the verge of extinction

SOURCE: – DATE: 15th September 2014

Though turtles are resilient species and they are considered living fossils for their adaptability to their environment, they are facing imminent threat to their survival in Pakistan because of human activity and their mass killing and smuggling.
Though no data on turtle population in Pakistan is available with the WWF or the wildlife departments, they have been declared endangered species. The decision is based on some IUCN studies that say various turtle species in Pakistan are under great threat because of their massive killing for their illegal trade. There has been mass mortality of river turtles in the past. At the Sukkur Barrage more than 1,000 turtles were found dead along the Indus banks. Later, autopsies showed these animals were poisoned. Similarly, 3,650kg frozen body parts of turtles were confiscated while being shipped to Vietnam at Karachi airport in 2005. In another incident, 700kg dried turtles parts were intercepted while being smuggled to China at the Jinnah international airport.
During the briefing by WWF and Sindh wildlife department officials at Sukkur, the media persons were informed that 200 live turtles smuggled to China in June 2014 were returned to Pakistan last month by Chinese authorities. These turtles will be released in their habitat after flood situation turns normal, tentatively on the 20th of September.

Link to this web article online (English)

4. Quang Tri Province, Vietnam: Release 22 turtles to the wild

SOURCE: – DATE: 18th September 2014

The Forest Protection Department (FPD) of Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve, Quang Tri Province released 22 turtles consisting of Keeled box turtle (Coura mouhotii) and Malayan snail-eating turtle (Malayemys subtrijuga).

The turtles had been transferred by the Customs Branch of Lao Bao International Border gate.( ATP NOTE: a border crossing between Laos and Vietnam) Earlier, the customs forces had detected a bus No75B- 004.03 travelling in Vientiane city, Laos– Hue city, Vietnam route, showing abnormal sights. Upon inspection, they found 22 turtles hidden in sacks in the coach luggage compartment. Nguyen Mau Thanh, the driver confessed to transporting the animals to an unknown person in Dong Ha city, Quang Tri province.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

release 22 turtles


Thai tortoise seizure

© P. Tansom

5. Thailand’s tortoise seizures significant but insufficient follow-up to quash illegal trade

SOURCE: - DATE: 19th September 2014
Tortoises and freshwater turtles may be slow movers, but they are being smuggled at lightning speed through Thailand, with close to 19,000 seized in six years.

A new TRAFFIC report, Seizures of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles in Thailand 2008-2013, documented 53 reported seizures of tortoises and freshwater turtles in Thailand over the course of six years from 2008-2013.  Over half the seizures took place at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok.

But while there were numerous seizures, prosecutions moved at a tortoise pace. A third of the seizures resulted in the arrest of a total of 40 suspects, of which only six successful prosecutions were recorded. Fines ranging from (USD $620–67,270) and jail terms of 6 months to two years were handed out.

Of the 33 species recorded from the seizures, the Southeast Asian Box Turtle (Cuora amboinensis)was the most numerous, with approximately 7,120 animals seized in a single case in 2011. Almost 6,000 Indian Star Tortoises (Geochelone elegans), popular in the exotic pet trade, were also seized during the six year period.


Link to this web article online (English)


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