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No. 153, 17th October 2014

1. Cambodia: Chinese Men Fined Then Freed Over Hoard of Rare Animals

SOURCE: – DATE: 8th October 2014

Two Chinese nationals arrested Monday after a trove of rare and endangered animals, skins and bones was discovered at a Chinese Chamber of Commerce office in Phnom Penh were fined a combined $25,000 Tuesday and set free, according to police.
The two men, whom police refused to identify, were detained for questioning after local police, Forestry Administration officials and Wildlife Alliance experts raided the headquarters of the China Sichuan Chongqing Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia, located in Russei Keo district, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Inside, they found 19 skins of the endangered clouded leopard, as well as four other big cat skins—two of which turned out to be fake —10 otter skins and an assortment of bones, horns and claws, as well as three live monkeys, five tortoises and a turtle ATP NOTE: Species currently unconfirmed.
But despite the 2002 Forestry Law prohibiting the hunting, transporting and trading of protected species, the Chinese men were spared prosecution after agreeing to pay $25,000 Tuesday. Chris Shepherd, Southeast Asia director for Traffic, a wildlife trade monitor, said poor enforcement of wildlife laws in the region was contributing to the global rise in the trade of animals and their remains, which generates up to $20 billion annually.

Link to this web article online (English)


2. Canada - Turtles quietly becoming a top target for poachers and smugglers looking to cash in on Asian demand

SOURCE:– DATE: 9th October 2014

When Kai Xu, a Canadian resident, was apprehended at the Windsor-Detroit border crossing last month with more than 50 turtles — poached from the US wilderness and ultimately bound for China — experts knew it wasn’t an isolated incident. The highly publicized seizure helped to shed light on the burgeoning world of turtle poaching. Some authorities say it is quietly usurping the illegal harvest of other wildlife, as organized-crime rings tap into Asian markets that offer an insatiable demand for the reptiles.
The demand is largely borne out of dietary and cultural niches in Asia, where soft-shell turtles are considered a symbol of health and long life. “It’s under a belief that, since turtles have long lives, eating them will confer some of that longevity into the consumer,” says Gavin Shire, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “So turtles are generally being smuggled out for that purpose.” With Asian markets literally devouring North American turtles, the practice is poised to become a top money maker for smuggling rings, which may eschew other wildlife in favour of lucrative turtles.

Link to this web article online (English)

sea turtles sold as decoration© M. Gawler

3. Vietnam - $150mn ethnic cultural complex left desolate in northern Vietnam

SOURCE: DATE: 10th October 2014

A cultural complex representing Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups has sat derelict since parts of it were opened four years ago in time for the millennial birthday of Hanoi.
The project to build the Vietnam National Villages for Ethnic Culture and Tourism in Son Tay District is estimated to cost VND3.2 trillion (US$150.62 million). However, the cultural complex, which sits on a 1,544-hectare land plot, has been neglected since it was inaugurated in October 2010 to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi.
ATP NOTE: The cultural village is located near Dong Mo Lake in Vietnam where the only worlds’ known wild Hoan Kiem Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) are known to survive. Considered the worlds’ most endangered turtle species, it is a shame that some of this money could have not been spent on conservation of such a culturally important turtle species. We can dream!

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

ethnic cultural complex left desolate
Tuoi Tre

U Minh Ha Forest
Anh Tua


4. Vietnam: Large amount of wild animals detected in U Minh Ha Forest

SOURCE: – DATE: 13th October 2014

Several rare wild animals have recently been discovered in U Minh Ha forest in the southernmost province of Ca Mau, Vietnam, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The animals included monkeys, wild boars, weasels, pythons and varans.  In order to preserve the wildlife, from 2000, the People's Committee of Ca Mau province has prohibited the hunting, transporting, selling and purchasing of rare wildlife species. The result of the implementation of this policy is that since 2010, the agency has detected 77 cases of illegal wild animal trading; has seized over 1 ton of wildlife, such as turtles, lizards, wild pigs, deer, and cobras and release them all to the forest.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

5. New movie raises fears of new spate of turtle-buying

SOURCE: – DATE: 13th October 2014

The release of a new big-budget version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has led to fears for the safety of the real creatures. Marine experts fear a fresh spate of people buying cute baby turtles and terrapins without knowing anything about them. They are concerned that buyers would be oblivious of the care they need, how long they live or even how big they grow. Senior aquarist Todd German said that at the height of the franchise hundreds of thousands of turtles were acquired as pets but many later had to be re-homed and others were just dumped in rivers and streams. 

Link to this web article online (English)

6. The Philippines: 3 siblings die after eating turtle meat
SOURCE: – DATE: 14th October 2014
Three siblings died after allegedly eating turtle meat in Barangay Liang, Irosin, Sorsogon, Sorsogon, the Philippines, police said Monday.
The Police said a couple, Pio and Teresa Alon, bought the turtle meat from a fisherman from Matnog, Sorsogon, Philippines. The couple then cooked the turtle meat and served it to their three children, two of whom were aged 1 and 5. The following day, the children complained of stomach ache and vomited.
The 1-year-old girl was pronounced dead on arrival at the Irosin District Hospital, while her two siblings died while being transferred to Sorsogon Provincial Hospital. The couple also got sick from eating the turtle meat, but they are now on their way to recovery.

Link to this web article online (English)

wildlife smugglers© The Star

7. Going after the big-time wildlife smugglers

SOURCE: – DATE: 15th October 2014

It has been largely the small fish who get caught in the illegal wildlife trade. Wildlife authorities, however, are attempting to change that scenario as they focus on those who are really behind the trade - the large orga­nised criminal network run by kingpins.
"It is tough for us because the big-time smugglers are very smart. Most of the time, they don't get their hands dirty so it is sometimes hard to find evidence against them," said Department of Wildlife and Na­tional Parks (Perhilitan) deputy director-general Dr Zaaba Zainol Abidin.
Notable prosecutions against the wildlife trade include that of Malaysian Anson Wong, known as the "Lizard King". Wong was convicted and impri­soned for 71 months in the United States after pleading guilty to trafficking in endangered reptiles in 2001. This followed his arrest and conviction for attempting to smuggle snakes in his luggage from Penang to Jakarta. Wong was released on the 12th of February. Wong's wife Cheah Bing Shee has been charged with illegal possession of five Elongated Tortoises (Indotestudo elongata) and her case has been fixed for hearing on the 11th of December.


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