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No. 152, 10th October 2014

1. Hawaii the USA: Put Down That Pineapple: Farm Runoff Is Killing Hawaiian Sea Turtles

SOURCE: - DATE: 1st October 2014

Hawaii’s golf courses and pineapple farms are causing tumors in imperiled Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas), a study published Tuesday finds. The link is an amino acid called arginine, which trickles down from the island’s nutrient-rich urban runoff into the turtle’s food source, riddling their bodies with white tumors.
Turtles stricken with fibropapillomatosis grow cauliflower-like tumors that often form around their shoulders and eyes. That can impede a turtle’s movement and often leave it blind, according to The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida.—one of the few locations worldwide that treats turtles for the disease. The first case was reported in a green turtle in the New York Aquarium in 1938 and has spread to turtles worldwide.
“The most common surgery performed is the removal of debilitating viral tumors that affect over 50 percent of the sea turtles in the keys and around the world,” The Turtle Hospital states on its website. 

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

2. The USA: Southwest Florida turtles infected with deadly virus

SOURCE: – DATE: 2nd October 2014

A deadly virus is killing reptiles in Southwest Florida, and veterinarians have no way to stop it. Since the beginning of the year, five Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) were diagnosed with the ranavirus -- described as the Ebola virus for box turtles. The virus causes tissue break down, excessive bleeding and sore that line the inside of the turtle's mouth. It's never been detected in Southwest Florida before, therefore doctors don't know much about it -- such as where it came from or how the turtles are contracting the virus. “It's very sad. It's very rare that we see a disease like that – where there's no cure and there's nothing we can do for them,” said Barron. It's not just turtles dying. The Ranavirus is called the cold-blooded killer because it can infect any fish amphibian and reptile population. “We'll definitely keep an eye on it and document thoroughly any cases that do come in here,” said Dr. Brittany Stevens with C.R.O.W.
C.R.O.W. is currently looking into changes in the environment that could have created stress in the turtles and lead to this outbreak.

Link to this web article online (English)

3. Indonesia: Intensive collection threatens peculiar Pig-nosed Turtle in Papua, Indonesia

SOURCE: – DATE: 4th October 2014

Intensive illegal collection of the Vulnerable Pig-nosed Turtle for the pet, food and traditional medicine trades has reached alarming levels, a new TRAFFIC report has found.
The sole existing member of the once widespread Carettochelyidae family, the Pig-nosed Turtle Carettochelys insculpta is suffering the combined impacts of high international demand, organized global wildlife trade and poor enforcement in Papua province, Indonesia, where TRAFFIC’s study was centred.  A 2011 study of Pig-nosed Turtles in Papua found that populations there were suffering severe declines due to over-harvesting.

The latest study found that Pig-nosed Turtle eggs are collected from river banks by villagers, who incubate them in hatcheries before selling the juvenile turtles into the global traditional medicine and pet trades. Such operations are not legitimate “captive-breeding” enterprises as the eggs are illegally collected from the wild.

Notably, over 30 seizures amounting to more than 80,000 individual Pig-nosed Turtles took place between 2003 and 2013. They included a massive single seizure in 2009 of 12,247 Pig-nosed Turtles in Timika, Papua. More recently, 8,368 animals were discovered in several suitcases in connected seizures in Papua and Jakarta in January 2014.  A PDF report by TRAFFIC can be downloaded from the link.

Link to this web article online (English)

pig-nosed turtle in danger
R. Lidley

4. The USA: In wake of drought and fires, turtle habitat becomes death trap

SOURCE: – DATE: 4th October 2014

Biologists strode along the cracked, dry mud surrounding this evaporating north Los Angeles County lake last week, pausing periodically to pick up an emaciated turtle and wash alkaline dust off its head and carapace.
"A lot of these animals are severely ill and starving," said Tim Hovey, a state Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, as he gestured toward a group of turtles bobbing in the murky water offshore.
After three years of drought, this natural 2-mile-long lake, about 15 miles west of Lancaster, has become a smelly, alkaline death trap for one of the largest populations of state-protected Western Pond Turtles (Actinemys marmorata or Emys marmorata) in Southern California.
Many of the lake's estimated 300 turtles — shy, aquatic reptiles that are 4 to 8 inches long and live to be 60 years old — are gathering along the receding shoreline with nothing to eat, no place to take refuge and "looking like they've been dipped in wet cement," U.S. Geological Survey biologist Jeff Lovich said.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

death trap for turtle

© B. Brug

death trap for turtle
© B. Brug

5. Pakistan: Turtle smuggling case hearing put off till the 25th of October

SOURCE: – DATE: 5th October 2014

The Sindh Wildlife Department has taken an alleged turtle smuggler to court and got delayed his acquittal during the hearing on Saturday. The accused, Sajid Cheema, hails from Gujranwala and lives in Bangkok, Thailand. He was caught red-handed at the Karachi airport in Sindh, Pakistan, last month with 218 Black Spotted Turtles (Geoclemys hamiltonii) stuffed in his briefcase. More than 45 of the turtles have died so far and the rest have been released back into the wild.
 What transpired at the hearing was that the alleged smuggler filed an application pleading guilty. Based on that application the judge was inclined to simply impose a fine and not a prison sentence, and even return “his property” (i.e. the turtles) to him.  Sindh Wildlife Department’s lawyer Faisal Siddiqi and his associate Salahuddin Panhwar, however, managed to get the turtles freed and returned them to the wild as well as delaying the alleged smuggler’s acquittal. They also filed an application stating their lack of faith in the judge and requested transfer of the case from the present judge to another before a superior court i.e. the session court.
During the hearing when the judge expressed his inclination to release the alleged smuggler after imposing a fine of Rs50,000 ($819), the Sindh Wildlife Department’s prosecution team informed him that he could not hear the case because they had filed a transfer application.   
In the light of this, the judge agreed to adjourn the hearing to the 25th of October. The hearing for the transfer of the case before the session court is fixed for the 22nd of October. The prosecution team hopes that the case will be transferred to a judge who has not already made up his mind to release the accused lightly.

Link to this web article online (English)

6. Pakistan contacts Thailand for information on turtle seizure

SOURCE: – DATE: 6th October 2014

Pakistan has requested CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)-Management Authority of Thailand to provide details on seizures of turtles and tortoises that have been made over the past few years which according to press reports were smuggled out of Pakistan, sources told Dawn on Sunday.
The sources said the CITES-Management Authority of Pakistan sent the requisition through an email.
They also said that the need to contact the Thai authorities was felt following the recent publication of a report by TRAFFIC International (the wildlife trade monitoring network developed by International Union for Conservation of Nature and World Wide Fund for Nature) regarding seizures of tortoises and freshwater turtles in Thailand (2008-2013) that highlights three cases in which Pakistanis were involved.

Link to this web article online (English)


black pond turtle seizure


7. The USA: Ponce de Leon man arrested for DUI and smuggling gopher tortoises into Alabama

SOURCE: – DATE: 9th October 2014

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources reported the recent arrest of a Ponce de Leon man arrested on DUI charges and found in illegal possession of six Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus).
Micah T. McKinney, 33, of Ponce de Leon was found in possession of six gopher tortoises when he was stopped at a security checkpoint in Covington County, Alabama, and according to the report McKinney said he intended to eat the turtles. The turtles were confiscated and returned to a suitable habitat.
Under the federal Lacy Act it is a crime to transport illegally taken wildlife across state lines and in Alabama the gopher tortoise is a species of high conservation concern protected by state law. The gopher tortoise is also listed as federally threatened In Washington, Mobile and Choctaw counties and is also being considered for further protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.


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