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ATP WEEKLY TURTLE BULLETIN

No. 167, 23rd January 2015


1. Vietnam: Calling for tender for planning on species Habitat Conservation Area in Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
SOURCE: 8th January 2015 - DATE: ktdt.vn

Vietnam's Hanoi People’s Committee calls for tenders for the planning on a Species Habitat Conservation Area (SHCA) for Hoan Kiem lake in downtown Hanoi.  The lake is home to one of only four Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtles (Rafetus swinhoei) known in the world. The animal in the Hanoi lake is also considered a sacred animal with a 15th century legend about the mystical god like creature that provided a magical sword to King Le Loi which was used to defeat the invading Chinese army at the time.  During the first quarter of 2015 applications will be accepted for the budget of 660 million Vietnam Dong ($31,400) which will be reviewed by the Hanoi department of fisheries who will also monitor progress of the SHCA.  ATP NOTE: having a agency responsible for protection of this important animal and to maintain a healthy habitat in which it can live is of great importance, in 2011 poor water quality and fishing activities in the lake were at least in part likely for the animal becoming sick.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

hoan Kiem planning

© ktdt.vn

2. Myanmar: 300 Burmese Star Tortoises Transferred for Release in Myanmar
SOURCE: turtlesurvival.org – DATE: 14th January 2015

Another milestone was reached this month in one of TSA's efforts, in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society, to reestablish a population of wild Burmese Star Tortoises (Geochelone platynota) in Myanmar. On the 4th of January 2015 at a wildlife sanctuary in central Myanmar, 300 captive-bred and head-started sub-adult tortoises (3-5 years old) were moved from an assurance colony into three expansive holding pens, each encompassing 2 ha (about 5 acres) of natural scrub forest and grassland enclosed within a bamboo fence. Our plan is to hold the tortoises in the pens for varying periods before releasing them later this year. The first group is slated for release in June 2015 and transmitters attached to many tortoises will allow us to closely follow their movements. These tortoises will join 150 other captive-bred tortoises that have already been released – or will be shortly – in the sanctuary. Encouragingly, a radio telemetry team following these released tortoises recently came upon two young females (one released in May and the other in November 2014) depositing eggs, an event that marks the first documented reproduction by free-living Burmese Star Tortoises in more than a decade!

Link to this web article online (English)

Burmese Star Tortoise

© TSA

sea turtle

© J. Roger Brothers

3. Sea turtle finds her way back to birth beach, but how?
SOURCE: latimes.com – DATE: 15th January 2015

It's a sea turtle mystery that has stumped scientists for decades: How does the female sea turtle, which travels across thousands of miles of open ocean each year, still manage to navigate back to the same beach where she hatched to lay her eggs?
Scientists have hypothesized that sea turtles may rely on information in the Earth's geomagnetic field to help them find their way back to their birth beach, but they had never been able to find any evidence to support this hypothesis. Until now.
In a paper published Thursday in Current Biology, researchers show that subtle changes in the Earth's magnetic field affect where Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) bury their eggs on the Florida coast, providing the first clue that what's known as the geomagnetic imprint hypothesis may be correct.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

Link 3 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

4. Vietnam: Hoan Kiem Turtle seen surfacing
SOURCE: ngoisao.net – DATE: 16th January 2015

On the 16th of January 2015, the Hoan Kiem Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) was seen climbing on the grass of the Turtle Tower for basking for about 7 minutes. This was the sixth time the legendary turtle seen surfacing since the beginning of January. Quite a few people have shown concern about the turtle's health due to the frequent appearance of the turtle. However, According to Prof. Ha Dinh Duc, a senior expert of the Hoan Kiem Turtle, the recent emergences of the turtle were thanks to the warmer and sunnier weather. ATP NOTE: The turtle often surface without being reported, on the 17th of January during a visit by Dr Peter Pritchard the turtle was again seen on the turtle island but without attracting much attention.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Hoan Kiem turtle

© Ha Dinh DucHoan Kiem turtle

© Ha Dinh Duc

split tiger carass

© Thanh nien news

5. Bac Kan Province, Vietnam police seize frozen split tiger carcass
SOURCE: thanhniennews.com – DATE: 16th January 2015

Environment police in the north-eastern province of Bac Kan seized the frozen carcass of a 303-kilogram tiger when they searched a truck on Thursday, news website Dan Tri reported.
The search was carried out after the police was tipped off that the truck, which was parked in Bac Kan Hotel, was smuggling goods. They found the frozen tiger, already cut into five parts and put in five sacks, wrapped in blankets and hid in the truck. They also seized two sacks containing 53 kilograms of animal bones, three kilograms of animal bone glue and three kilograms of turtle shells from the truck. 
Pham Minh Long, the 43-year-old truck driver, told police he was hired to transport the goods. He is being detained pending investigations.
ATP NOTE: the frequent observation of turtles amongst other wildlife parts highlights the extent of the wildlife trade in the region and also the often generalist approach of traders who buy and trade what ever they can get.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

6. Nepal: Police seize 214 kg hashish‚ tortoise
SOURCE: thehimalayantimes.com – DATE: 18th January 2015

Police today made public four persons arrested on the charge of smuggling tortoise at a press meet organised in District Police Office, Chitwan, Nepal. The smugglers were nabbed red-handed while negotiating the price of the aquatic animal at Ratna Nagar Municipality of Chitwan yesterday. Acting on a tip-off, the police team had raided one of smugglers’ house where the smugglers were caught bargaining over the price of the tortoise. They had demanded Rs 9 million ($145,519) for it, said Chitwan Police Chief SP Sahakul Bahadur Thapa. Trading of tortoise is illegal as per the government rule. ATP NOTE: The turtle species are still unknown.

Link to this web article online (English)

7. India: Coastal turtle-nesting site in danger
SOURCE: timesofindia.indiatimes.com – DATE: 20th January 2015

Environmentalists and villagers of Pannaiyoor in Rajakkamangalam panchayat, Kanyakumari district, India are demanding the protection of a vital turtle nesting site on the coast here, after a fishing harbour was proposed in the area.
The 600-ft (182.88 m) long and 100-ft (30.48m) high dune in Rajakkamangalam is one of the last sand dunes left in the area. For many years, it was a key turtle breeding ground. R S Lalmohan of Conservation of Nature Trust said the state coastal zone management authority and district forest department had given the nod for the harbour project, hiding the fact that the sand dune acted as an important turtle-nesting site. A four-member committee formed by state coastal zone management authority in 2013 gave a fraudulent report stating that it was only a heap of sand, he said.

Link to this web article online (English)

frozen wildlife conficated in Quang Ngai
© Linh Pham

Frozen wildlife conficated in Quang Ngai
© An ninh thu do

8. Vietnam: Frozen wildlife confiscated in Quang Ngai Province
SOURCE: antv.gov.vn – DATE: 20th January 2015

A crackdown on a wildlife trafficking establishment in Quang Ngai province, central Vietnam was made by Quang Ngai Environmental Police on the 19th of January 2015. After entering an establishment owned by Mrs Bui Thi Kim Chi, the task force seized two live macaques and 100kg of frozen wildlife, including one turtle, 24kg of dead macaques (3 indivduals), 70kg of Bengal monitor lizard (Varanus bengalensis), an Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) and Rat snake (Ptyas mucosus). All frozen specimens were destroyed. The case continues to be investigated. 
ATP NOTE: no identification was made on the turtle before they were destroyed. Also, the trader involved was previously caught in the confiscation on the 7th of May 2014 with 7 snake species identified as King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), Chinese Cobra(Naja atra), and Rat Snake (Ptyas Mucosa); and 9 rare turtles species identified as Elongated Tortoises (Indotestudo elongata), Orange-headed Temple Turtles (Heosemys grandis), and Striped-necked Leaf Turtles (Cyclemys pulchristriata) (Bulletin No.130).

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

9. Climate change threatens 30 years of sea turtle conservation success
SOURCE: phys.org - DATE: 21st January 2015

A new University of Central Florida (UCF) study is sounding the alarm about climate change and its potential impact on more than 30 years of conservation efforts to keep sea turtles around for the next generation.
Climate change is causing sea-level rise, and how coastal communities react to that rise could have dire consequences for sea turtles and other wildlife that rely on an unobstructed beach for survival. That's the conclusion of a University of Central Florida study recently published in Chelonian Conservation and Biology.
The study found that armouring (putting up hard surfaces to protect against erosion) has a negative impact on beaches. It puts up barriers to wildlife and impacts sea turtles' ability to nest. These barriers can also have a negative impact on other wildlife.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

galapagos baby tortoise

© geographic.co.uk

10. Galapagos Islands: Historic birth for Galapagos tortoises
SOURCE: geographic.co.uk - DATE: 21stJanuary 2015

In 2012, a new initiative was launched aimed to help Galapagos Islands; giant tortoises to breed without human intervention. Known as 'Project Pinzón', this joint Galapagos National Park–Charles Darwin Foundation plan saw helicopters flying back-and-forth across several Galapagos Islands – including the 18km2 Pinzón Island – scattering in total around forty tons of poisoned rat bait.
The results of that initiative have been witnessed. During a recent population survey on Pinzón Island, a team led by Dr James Gibbs, Professor of Vertebrate Conservation Biology and Associate Chair of the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York, discovered ten newly hatched Saddleback Giant Tortoises (Chelonoidis ephippium), the first Galapagos giant tortoises to be reared in the wild in over a century. By the end of the survey, the team had encountered over three hundred tortoises on the island, and Gibbs estimates an overall population of well over five hundred.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

11. Canada: Field study of Misery Bay turtle die-off expands to cover wintertime
SOURCE: manitoulin.ca – DATE: 21st January 2014

Laurentian University researchers investigating the mysterious deaths of over 71 turtles at Misery Bay Provincial Park in Western Manitoulin, Ontario, Canada have extended their field study over the winter to further explore theories of predation and hibernation. Using radio trackers, Donnell Gasbarrini, a Laurentian University Masters of Science student working on her masters under Dr. Jacqueline Litzgus, a professor and herpetologist in the Department of Biology at the university, and her field assistant Amber Koldzik monitored a total of 18 Blanding's Turtles (Emydoidea blandingi) in the park, in addition to using turtle decoys and field cameras to monitor potential predators.
There are three main reasons turtles die in the winter, further explained Ms Gasbarrini, freezing, not getting enough oxygen or predation. Our original plan didn't involve winter field work but turtles are in a very vulnerable position during hibernation and it is possible that this is when their death occurred.

Link to this web article online (English)

Blanding's turtle

© manitoulin.ca

 

 
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