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ATP WEEKLY TURTLE BULLETIN

No. 171, 27th February 2015

1. Taking Down Vietnam's Marine Turtle Kingpin
SOURCE: youtube.com – DATE: 24th February 2015

On the 19th of November 2014, Vietnam’s National Environmental Police raided three warehouses in the city of Nha Trang and discovered more than 4.3 tons of dead marine turtles. A month later local police raided three additional locations connected to the same criminal network and found 4,000 more marine turtles. The combined volume of turtles seized in both raids was more than an estimated 10 tons making this the single largest seizure of marine turtles in world history.

The raids came as a result of a three-year investigation by Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), a Vietnam based NGO which identified Mr Hoang Manh Cuong as the “kingpin” standing behind the network. The kingpin was protected by his brother who stepped up after the raids and accepted the responsibility. However, the story is not over. What remains to be seen is whether the justice system in Vietnam will deliver appropriate punishment to Cuong for his serious crimes, which have both national and international implications. This is an important opportunity for Vietnam to show that it can meet its global obligation to eradicate wildlife crime and the criminal organizations that engage in such activities.

Link to the video (English)

 

2. Wildlife under threat from Asia's poaching crisis – in pictures
SOURCE: theguardian.com – DATE: 5th February 2015

It’s not just tigers, elephants and rhinos that are threatened by poaching. As Nepal hosts a Zero Poaching in Asia symposium this week, the WWF highlight 10 lesser-known Asian species being slaughtered to satisfy a growing demand for illegal wildlife products. These species include Siberian musk deer (Moschus moschiferus), sun bears (Helarctos malayanus), Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), tokay geckos (Gekko gecko), the Gold of Kinabalu orchid (Paphiopedilum rothschildianum), Thailand rosewood timber, Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus), Burmese star tortoise (Geochelone platynota), Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus), Proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus), Tiger (Panthera tigris), Asian rhinos (Rhinocerotidae spp.) and Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). ATP NOTE: while this list is diverse in the taxa it lists, highlighting the range of wildlife targeted by the trade it is by no means exhaustive, all species of tortoise and freshwater turtle as well as marine turtles are impacted significantly by the wildlife trade.

Link to this web article online (English)

 

Asian rhinos© STR/EPA

Burmese star tortoise© Minden Pictures

3. First reported outbreak of severe spirorchiidiasis (parasitic trematode flat worm) in the European Pond Turtle (Emys orbicularis), probably resulting from a parasite spillover event
SOURCE: int-res.com – DATE: 10th February 2015

The importance of disease-mediated invasions and the role of parasite spillover as a substantial threat to the conservation of global biodiversity are now well known. Although competition between invasive sliders Trachemys scripta elegans and indigenous European turtles has been extensively studied, the impact of this invasive species on diseases affecting native populations is poorly known. A new report published in Diseases of Aquatic Organisms shows a new case of parasite spillover from alien turtles (Trachemys scripta) resulting in a severe emerging disease in European Pond Turtles.  Spirorchiidiasis is a parasitic trematode flat worm which can infect turtles causing neurological disease and has been seen spreading from invasive Red Eared Sliders into native European Pond Turtles.

Link to this report online (English)

4. India: 750 tortoises rescued in Pratapgarh, smugglers arrested
SOURCE: business-standard.com – DATE: 19th February 2015

Three suspected tortoise smugglers have been arrested from Pratapgarh railway station (Uttar Pradesh, India) after Government RailwayPolice (GRP) officials found 750 tortoises, worth Rs 1.25 crores ($202,000) in sixteen airbags they were carrying. They were arrested during the routine checking at platform number 2. ATP NOTE: The turtle species involved still remains unknown.

Link to this web article online (English)

large softshell turtle
©
The Star

5. Malaysia: 100kg turtle may end up in the pot
SOURCE: thestar.com.my – DATE: 19th February 2015

Many fear that an endangered 100kg soft-shell turtle caught by a fisherman in Daro may end up in the cooking pot for a mere RM2,000 ($560). The fisherman who caught the turtle, which is believed to be 50 years old, has said that he plans to sell it in the market here.
A local resident said that if it happened, the turtle would end up in the cooking pot if there was no intervention by the relevant authorities to stop the sale..
ATP NOTE: the turtle appears to be a very old and large Asiatic Softshell Turtle (Amyda cartilaginea), considered vulnerable the species is heavily impacted by hunting and trade.

Link to this web article online (English)

6. Thailand: Pair arrested for wildlife smuggling
SOURCE: bangkokpost.com – DATE: 20th February 2015

Two Japanese tourists were arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand for allegedly trying to smuggle forbidden wildlife to Nagoya. Customs officials took Naoki Hiraguchi, 39, and Toshikazu Kawai, 39, into custody at about 11 am following the seizure of many exotic animals found hidden in their suitcases. The seized animals included four capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), 110 Pig-nosed Turtles (Carettochelys insculpta), 21 snakes of unknown species, 5.7 kg of Golden Tree Snakes (Chrysopelea ornata) and nine geckos.


Link 1 to this web article online (English)


Link 2 to this web article online (English)

four capybara seized in Thailand© P. Janthong

coypte
©
S.C Department of Natural Resources

7. The USA: Coyotes a new threat to sea turtles on South Carolina island
SOURCE: thestate.com – DATE: 22nd February 2015

Just as wild hogs stopped eating sea turtle eggs on North Island (South Carolina, the USA), another top predator showed up and continued the gluttony, state wildlife officials say.
Last summer, coyotes ate more than half of the 90 sea turtle nests on the island, digging around barriers that volunteers had placed above the nests to try and keep eggs from being devoured, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

Link to this web article online (English)

8. The USA: Tropical turtle discovery in Wyoming provides climate-change clues
SOURCE: news.ufl.edu - DATE: 23rd February 2015

Tropical turtle fossils discovered in Wyoming, the USA by University of Florida (UF) scientists reveal that when the earth got warmer, prehistoric turtles headed north. But if today’s turtles try the same technique to cope with warming habitats, they might run into trouble.
The newly discovered genus and species, Gomphochelys nanus, provides a clue to how animals might respond to future climate change, said Jason Bourque, a palaeontologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF and the lead author of the study, which appears online this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

turtle fossil© J. Gage

9. India: Olive Ridley sand sculpture ups awareness about turtle deaths
SOURCE: timesofindia.indiatimes.com – DATE: 23rd February 2015

This day last year, 824 dead turtles washed ashore at the Penna Estuary at Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, India. The mass death had raised an alarm about the increasing threat to turtles from trawler fishing boats. In Chennai, as many as 598 turtles have washed ashore this year. On Sunday, about 100 turtle lovers made a sand model of an Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) at the Neelankarai beach, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India to pay homage to the dead turtles.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

olive ridley
©
The Hindu

10. India: 44 smuggled tortoises seized
SURCE: timesofindia.indiatimes.com – DATE: 24th February 2015

The Dhaba police on Sunday seized 44 tortoises after intercepting two bike-borne smugglers on a bridge over Wardha River. While one of the accused managed to flee, the other accused Harimohan Haldar was arrested. The police team summoned Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) officers to the spot and handed over Haldar and the seized tortoises to them. Assistant manager, FDCM Chandrapur, AA Zade booked the accused under relevant sections of wildlife laws. ATP NOTE: The tortoise species are still unknown.

Link to this web article online (English)

1000 baby turtles stolen
©
sina news

11. More than 1,000 baby turtles stolen from Chinese pet lover’s home
SOURCE: scmp.com – DATE: 24th February 2015

Over 1,000 juvenile turtles were stolen from a house in southern China. The ‘pets’ were worth1.2 million yuan ($191,760) and the owner was asleep during the burglary. ATP Note: these look to be of the Mauremys genus and most likely Asian Yellow Pond Turtles (Mauremys mutica), what is sad is that this species is Endangered and highly threatened in the wild yet still sought for the trade despite the fact they can be bred in captivity relatively well.  With over 1,000 animals being kept with a high economic value in the species it is likely this was a commercial enterprise.

Link to this web article online (English)

12. Baby sea turtles starved of oxygen by beach microbes
SOURCE: theconversation.com – DATE: 26th February 2015

On a small stretch of beach at Ostional in Costa Rica, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles nest simultaneously in events known as arribadas. Because there are so many eggs in the sand, nesting females frequently dig up previously laid nests, leaving the beach littered with broken eggs. But these endangered sea turtles are facing a new threat: sand microbes encouraged by the decomposing eggs.
Results from a new study published in PLOS ONE show how these sand microbes cause low levels of oxygen in the nests that interfere with the embryonic development of the sea turtles.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

baby sea turtles
©
M. Manske

 

 
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