Asian Turtle Program
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No. 166, 16th January 2015

1. Ben Tre Province, Vietnam: Southern fisherman catches giant southern turtle
SOURCE: – DATE: 24th December 2014

A fisherman in Chau Thanh district of Ben Tre province (southern Vietnam) caught a large Asiatic soft-shell turtle (Amyda cartilaginea) weighing 23.5kg (81 cm long and 50 cm wide) on the 14th of December 2014. He claims to have been offered 20 - 30 million VND ($950 - $1,430) for the animal but has so far refused. Amyda cartilaginea is highly threatened in Vietnam, listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. ATP NOTE: Despite this the animal has still not been confiscated as it is not clearly listed as protected under Vietnamese law, unfortunately such cases are not unusual and highlights current gaps in legislation in Vietnam.

Link to this web article online (English)

amyada cartlaginea


radiated tortoises

© Xu Ling

2. Wildlife seizures in 2014 highlight Lao PDR’s role in trafficking
SOURCE: – DATE: 6th January 2015

It emerges the confiscation of 170 baby Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) confiscated in France on the 14th of December 2014 where in transit from Madagascar to Lao PDR. In this TRAFFIC press release the growing use of Lao PDR as a transit state for illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia is highlighted with a number of cases including treated tortoise and freshwater turtle species. Weak enforcement and lacks customs are one of the reasons for an increase in wildlife destined for Lao PDR.

Link to this web article online (English)

3. China: Meeting to expand the role of wildlife detector dogs in Asia
SOURCE: – DATE: 7th January 2015

In December 2014, the inaugural World Customs Organization (WCO) Asia/Pacific Regional Customs seminar on the use and training of detector dogs took place at Ruili Detector Dog Base, China. The meeting, which took place in co-operation with TRAFFIC, was part of international efforts to expand the number of wildlife detector dogs in use in Asia and to increase the range of products they can detect.
In 2014, a dog named "Jin Kai" that was trained through a joint project between Ruili Drug Detector Dog Base and TRAFFIC in 2013 uncovered 16 cases of wildlife smuggling, a total of 15 kg of ivory, pangolin scales and rhino horns, according to Guangzhou Customs.
ATP NOTE: The use of wildlife detector dogs by Asian customs agencies would make wildlife trafficking much harder and is very much a welcome development.

Link to this web article online (English)

Detector dog

© Traffic

rafetus swinhoei

© Ha Dinh Duc

4. Hanoi, Vietnam: Hoan Kiem Lake’s legendary turtle was seen surfacing
SOURCE: - DATE: 12th January 2015

On the 12th January 2015, the Hoan Kiem Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) was seen surfacing for nearly 4 hours between 10:10 and 13:50 near the Turtle Tower in the middle o the lake. According to Prof. Ha Dinh Duc, a senior expert of the Hoan Kiem Turtle, the re-emergence of the turtle this time was due to the warm and sunny weather. This was the fourth time the legendary turtle emerged to the surface since the beginning of January. The turtle was seen surfacing on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of January 2015.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

5. The USA: This 12-Foot-Tall Sea Turtle Made Out of Snow Will Put Your Snowman to Shame
SOURCE: – DATE: 12th January 2015

These 3 brothers from New Brighton, Minnesota, USA have built a 12 foot tall marine turtle out of snow.  Austin, Trevor and Connor Bartz posted the above time-lapse video of the construction process.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

6. The USA: Oregon scientists alarmed by rare turtle’s absence
SOURCE: - DATE: 14th January 2015

A comprehensive turtle survey in Clackamas County, Oregon, the USA has failed to document any trace of the imperiled Western Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata or Emys marmorata). Pond turtle populations have declined throughout their West Coast range for a number of reasons, including destruction of their wetland habitat, conflict with invasive species and a recently discovered shell disease.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife conservation biologist Susan Barnes called the failure to spot a single individual at 15 sites “moderately alarming.”
“It’s clear that there are not a lot of turtles out there, but it will take more years of data to understand what’s happening with local western pond turtles and why,” said Barnes, who oversaw the survey.

Link to this web article online (English)

finding turtle

© M. Durham

slow loris

© Wikimedia

7. All kinds of illegal trade on Myanmar's border
SOURCE: – DATE: 15th January 2015

Myanmar's border town of Mong La does a brisk trade in rare species like the big-eyed Bengal Slow Loris (Nycticebus bengalensis), wanted by the Chinese for its purported medicinal value. Thousands of this shy tropical primate are killed and sold in the town every year, a report by the wildlife trade investigation agency, Traffic, said last week.
But the sale of slow loris is only the tip of the iceberg of the rampant illegal trade in exotic animals, drugs, timber, and precious gems taking place on the Myanmar-China and Laos-China borders. The problem for Myanmar government agencies is their lack of control over some border areas, especially places like Mong La in eastern Shan state. ATP NOTE: the cross boarder trade of wildlife, including turtles, into China is still a significant concern for conservation efforts in the Asia region.

Link to this web article online (English)


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