Asian Turtle Program
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No. 151, 3rd October 2014

1. The USA: Young Girl with Autism Finds Passion Painting Turtle Shells

SOURCE: – DATE: 4th September 2014

A recent episode of AnimalBytesTV, an online network that features animal-based programming, highlighted the connection between Kamp Kenan, a reptile  sanctuary in South Florida for over 500 turtles, tortoises and other reptiles, and Shannon McDermott, a young girl on the autism spectrum who has a passion for animals.
In the episode, Shannon comes to Kamp Kenan because her pet Redfoot Tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria) was getting too big and she needed to find him a new home at the sanctuary. While there, Shannon found a deceased turtle shell that she asked if she could have. This led to an artistic movement for Shannon, as she was able to combine two passions of hers in art and animals. 

Link to this web article online (English)

2. The USA: Feds lift veil on international turtle smuggling ring

SOURCE: – DATE: 26th September 2014

A Windsor man busted at the Detroit-Windsor tunnel with 51 live turtles in his pants is a serial smuggler who shipped thousands of reptiles to far-flung locales hidden in snow boots and cereal boxes, a federal prosecutor said Friday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward gave rare insight into a lucrative, international smuggling ring headed by Kai Xu that operated in at least three countries. She described an operation that peddled thousands of turtles, some endangered and worth $1,800 each, and relied on aliases and reptile couriers that Xu — aka "Turtle Man" — recruited through online forums and classified ads.

Link to this web article online (English)

Federal seizes turtles
Detroit News

3. Australia: Illegal traders of dugong, turtle meat targeted with $5m poaching crackdown

SOURCE: – DATE: 27th September 2014

The Federal Government is warning anyone involved in the illegal trade of dugong and turtle meat that they will be caught. The Government has allocated $5 million to a dugong and turtle protection plan that involves the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Customs and Border Protection, and the Australian Crime Commission.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the Crime Commission has been given $2 million to investigate the illegal trade. "If you are poaching dugong and turtle meat, transporting it illegally, you should be worried because the toughest cops on the beat are coming after you,” he warned.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

olive ridley sea turtle
ABC news

4. Pollution Linked To Sea Turtle Cancer

SOURCE: – DATE: 30th September 2014

Farm runoff and urban pollution in the Hawaiian islands is causing sea turtle tumours, according to a study in PeerJ. The paper by researchers at Duke University, the University of Hawaii and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration finds that nitrogen in the runoff ends up in algae that the turtles eat, promoting the formation of tumours on the animals' eyes, flippers and internal organs.
One way that algae store excess nitrogen is in an amino acid called arginine. The researchers found unusually high levels of arginine both in the algae in highly polluted waters and in the tumours of diseased turtles.

This research could help scientists better understand how to protect not only sea turtles but also other marine plants and animals that face similar threats from pollution. "It's not just green turtles, but fish and coral reefs that have similar diseases in these locations," said Van Houtan.

Link to this web article online (English)

a sea turtle with tumor

© C. Stankis

olive ridley sea turtle


5. What to Know About Turtle Egg Poaching & Selling in Costa Rica

SOURCE: – DATE: 2nd October 2014
In order to protect natural resources some of the eggs are legally taken and sold.
September 26th marked the arrival of the amazing Olive Ridley Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) at the National Wildlife Refuge Ostional (RNVSO). The park rangers are asking that all citizens and visitors cooperate in protecting these creatures that grace our beaches.
Any person allowed to sell the eggs will have a valid ID cards from both Incopesca and ADIO. Any business that is selling them legitimately will have documentation that can prove its origin and legality. They will be packaged and sealed. They will have labels on bags of 200 or a dozen that say dates of the “arribadas” – Sept 27, 28, 29 or 30, only.
Any other dates may be a sign of something illegal. If anyone or business selling them doesn’t have the documentation required, it will be assumed by authorities that they are operating illegally. They will face fines and/or imprisonment. Remember that responsible consumption contributes to protected natural resources.

Link to this web article online (English)

6. Bangladesh: New River Terrapin Join Colony in Bangladesh

SOURCE: – DATE: 24th September 2014

During Rupali Ghosh’s most recent trip, where she was accompanied by a team from Save Our Species (SOS), Rupali was interviewing fishermen learned that a local fisherman had captured a wild hatchling back in June, but that it had died. However, she also got word of a potential large female in a neighbouring village. She and the team mobilised and the tip was correct – they found a large (18 kg) female River Terrain (Batagur baska) that was being kept tethered in a private pond as a pet. The turtle's owners reported that they had owned the female for 16 years.
Rupali began negotiations with the turtle's owner, hoping to purchase the female and add her to the breeding colony, where she can contribute to the conservation of her species. After haggling over the price, the family agreed to sell the female to Rupali the next morning. She was removed from the pond and her tether was cut as several neighbours from the village looked on. In a touching moment, the turtle's owner took a moment to say goodbye to her longtime pet before the team moved her into a container for safe transport. The acquisition of this large, beautiful female will bring the number of females in the breeding colony to seven and will further diversify the genetic base.

Link to this web article online (English)


turtle nesting

© M. Richards

7. Pakistan: 173 black spotted turtles released

SOURCE: – DATE: 3rd October 2014

A group of 173 Black spotted turtles (Geoclemys hamiltonii) have been released into Haleji Lake Thatta, their natural habitat on Thursday after been recovered from smugglers.
Customs and Wildlife authorities at Quaid-e-Azam International Airport Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan had seized consignment of 218 turtles on the 20th of September 2014. A total of 45 mortalities occurred due to suffocation and injuries caused during their transportation.
The District Court of Malir ordered the immediate release of the turtles into their natural habitat. Representatives of Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD) and World Wildlife Fund Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) attended the ceremony held at Asia Asiaimed beach from Marco Ramsar site of Haleji Lake in Thatta District, Sindh, Pakistan.
However it was school children who along with media teams remained keen to capture the release scene in their cameras as part of a broader initiative to support conservation of the unique freshwater species. As the formal procedure started with turtles moving towards their freedom jubilant kids clapped and celebrated.

Link to this web article online (English)


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