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No. 155, 31st October 2014

1. Malaysia: Rare river terrapins get a shot at survival

SOURCE: – DATE: 20th October 2014

Critically endangered river terrapins are bred and released to replenish their declining numbers in the wild.

On a sunny morning in early September, a huge crowd gathered by the Terengganu River bank in Kampung Dusun, Malaysia. Word had gotten around about an exciting event – the release of baby river terrapins. It appeared as if the whole village had showed up. At the end of this momentous event, some 100 baby river terrapins (Batagur affinis) made their way to their rightful home. The terrapins that were released that day had been hatched and raised at the Kuala Berang Wildlife Conservation Centre in Bukit Paloh, a facility which was opened by the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) in 1976 to safeguard the survival of river terrapins in cooperation with the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia. Over 20,000 turtles have been released since the start of the project.

Link to this web article online (English)


2. Study of mitochondrial DNA reveals how the loggerhead turtle reached the Mediterranean

SOURCE: – DATE: 23rd October 2014

To date, it was thought that the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta) arrived to the Mediterranean from North America and the Caribbean after the last glacial period. However, latest scientific studies show that this marine species colonised the Mediterranean between 20,000 and 200,000 years ago, so the colonisation event took place before the last glacial period. Experts Lluís Cardona, Àlex Aguilar and Marcel Clusa from the Department of Animal Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) of the University of Barcelona (UB), and Carlos Carreras and Marta Pascual (member of IRBio), from the Department of Genetics of UB, participated in these studies.

To be exact, the Loggerhead turtle colonised the Mediterranean at least in two independent colonisation events. The first one (around 50,000 – 200,000 years ago) colonised the Eastern Mediterranean, and in the second, much more recent (after the last glacial period), the species colonised Southern Italy, particularly Calabria. "Results are surprising: they indicate that the ability to expand of the loggerhead turtle is notable", points out Cardona.

Link to this web article online (English)

Loggerhead turtle

Lonesome George
© M. Smith

3. Lonesome George, Immortalised

SOURCE: – DATE: 23rd October 2014

Extinction is forever, as the conservationists say. Desiccation, it turns out, is only nearly so.

The giant Galápagos tortoise known as Lonesome George, whose death in 2012 signified the end of his subspecies, the Pinta Island Tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii), has been preserved for posterity in a one-of-a-kind effort by expert taxidermists. But the work took about half a year longer than expected, in large part because the tortoise stubbornly refused to dry out.

“That’s always the great unknown, how long the animal will take to dry,” said Gergeo A. Dante Jr., whose studio, Wildlife Preservations, in Woodland Park, N.J., was given the task of preparing the 170-pound, five-foot-long tortoise. Lonesome  George — now fully dry and fully preserved, posed as if he were looking for his favourite food, cactus — is on display until early January at the American Museum of National History one of the partners in the effort.
The yearlong project was also sponsored by the Galápagos Conservancy, the Galápagos National Park in Ecuador and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. The tortoise will be returned to Ecuador and permanently displayed at the research station in the Galápagos.

Link to this web article online (English)

turtle cosume
E. Meixier

4. Cambodia: Slippery ethics in the turtle eating business

SOURCE: – DATE: 25th October 2014

Sale of softshell turtles in Cambodia highlights some of the challenges in of the wildlife trade. 
Recently in Phnom Phen L&F Seafood Wholesaler has been observed recently offering Chinese Softshell Turtles (Pelodiscus sinensis) for sale.  While this particular species maybe farm raised it provides a challenge to regulation of the wildlife trade. Many people buying and consuming wildlife including turtles will not differentiate between wild and farmed yet highly threatened species, particularly of a similar appearance, such as the endangered Asian Giant Softshell Turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) could end up in restaurants also. For many species of turtle they cannot be maintained or bred in captivity and hunting and trader is still the major threat to Cambodia’s 14 species of tortoise and freshwater turtle. 

Link to this web article online (English)

5. China: Endangered animals on sale in China-Vietnam border

SOURCE: - 27th October 2014

A large number of wild species, many endangered, were seen on sale or butchered for food at Jiangcheng County, Pu’er city of Yunnan province, reported.
With the No.3 boundary monument of China and Vietnam, the street in Jiangcheng country was originally planned as a trading lane for the Chinese and the Vietnamese. However, the street was now filled with wild animals, slaughtered or caged. Visitors can find numerous endangered animals on the menu of local restaurants, including Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), silver pheasant and bamboo rats. And the restaurants on the street are often full of eaters from near and far, even from out of the province.

Local people said you could find “everything you want” on the street of No.3 Border Monument, which are always “genuine goods at a fair price”. The wild animals mostly came from Vietnam, where they couldn’t sell at a good price as local people didn’t cook them for food, a Vietnamese peddler who just sold two Slow loris monkeys told the journalists. ATP NOTE: Two Impressed Tortoises (Manouria impressa) are shown along with other photographs of wildlife available for consumption in the market.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

Link 3 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

6. The Galapagos Islands: Giant tortoise makes 'miraculous' stable recovery

SOURCE: – DATE: 28th October 2014

Where once there were 15, now more than 1,000 giant tortoises (Chelonoidis nigra) lumber around Espanola, one of the Galapagos Islands. After 40 years' work reintroducing captive animals, a detailed study of the island's ecosystem has confirmed it has a stable, breeding population. Numbers had dwindled drastically by the 1960s, but now the danger of extinction on Espanola appears to have passed. The study, based on decades of observations of the variety found on Espanola, was published in the journal Plos One. His team has found that more than half the tortoises released since that time are still alive, and they are breeding well enough for the population to plod onward, unaided.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

stable recovery in the Galapagos Islands
J. Gibbs


7. Vietnam: Strange turtle found in Kien Giang province

SOURCE: – DATE: 29th October 2014

A turtle detected in Chau Thanh District, Tien Giang has become famous and valuable because of its abnormal appearance. It has a shell which is much smaller than its bone, a tiny head and  four corpulent legs. ATP NOTE: The turtle is an Orange-headed temple turtle (Heosemys grandis). Although no explanation is given for the turtles deformities it could be due to a life in captivity with an inadequate diet. The species is also protected under Decree 32 Appendix II meaning hunting, trading or keeping the species is prohibited without necessary permissions.

8. Vietnam: 330 wildlife animals released to Tay Yen Tu Nature Reserve

SOURCE: - DATE: 30th October 2014

Hanoi Wildlife Rescue Centre said that by the end of October 2014 the Centre had received 502 wild animals and 56kg of snakes during the year. In October 2014 alone the centre received 217 living wildlife, including 4 Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica); 210 individuals of Bulbuls (Pycnonotus sp.); 1 Wildcat (Felis silvestris); 2 Red-facedSpider Monkey (Ateles paniscus).

In addition the Centre also released 331 individuals to Tay Yen Tu Nature Reserve in Bac Giang Province, Northern Vietnam including 275 Bulbuls (Pycnonotus sp.), 14 Box Turtles (Coura galbinifrons sp.), 15 Striped-necked Leaf Turtles (Cyclemys pulchristriata), 22 Keeled Box Turtles (Cuora mouhotii), and 5 Wildcats (Felis silvestris). Additionally,the Centre transferred to  Hanoi Zoo 1 Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis), 1 Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphrodites), and 1 Masked Palm Civet (Paguma larvata).

Link to the web article online (Vietnamese)

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