Asian Turtle Program
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No. 180, 1st May 2015

1. India: 21 rare tortoise seized in West Bengal
SOURCE:– DATE: 23rd April 2015

The Border Security Force (BSF) have seized 21 rare Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans) valued in excess of Rs.12.6 lakh ($19,832) from West Bengal, India while they were being smuggled into Bangladesh, an officer said on Thursday. The seizure was made on Wednesday night from Kalanchi border outpost in North 24-Parganas district, West Bengal, India. "Challenged by a BSF patrol party, people trying to smuggle the animals into Bangladesh fled leaving behind sacks from which the tortoise were recovered. The animals valued at Rs.12.60 lakh ($19,832) and have been handed over to the forest department," a BSF officer said.

Link to this web article online (English)

2. India: 65 kgs peacock feathers, 29 tortoises seized by customs at Cochin
SOURCE: – DATE: 24th April 2015

The custom authority at the Cochin International Airport (Kochi, Kerala, India) has seized 65 kilograms of peacock feathers and 29 tortoises in two separate incidents. (ATP NOTE: All turtles in the video are black pond turtles (Geoclemys hamiltonii))
The officials detained Mohammad Beeran, a traveller going to Kuala Lampur by Silk Air with 29 turtles,  valued at Rs. 15 lakhs ($23,610). Black pond turtle are sometimes claimed to resemble star tortoises which are considered a lucky charm in many European nations, and are priced as high as $900 per tortoise, said Sanjay Bangartale, Assistant Commissioner of the Customs Department. ATP NOTE: this claim does not seem sound as the destination of the animals appears to have been Asia.
According to reports, the arrested are to be produced before the court. The customs department has also handed over the tortoises to the forest department, while forest officials safely transported the feathers under custody.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

3. The island where endangered Hawksbill turtles thrive
SOURCE: – DATE: 26th April 2015

The private Caribbean island of Jumby Bay - off the north coast of Antigua and Barbuda - is the site of the world's longest running research programme for critically endangered hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata). Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the study, funded entirely by Jumby Bay's well-heeled homeowners who include the likes of Lord Sainsbury, the former chair of the eponymous British supermarket chain, and author Ken Follett. It has collated more data than any other project about the intriguing creatures which were previously considered too skittish to study, and is one of the only places in the world where their numbers are increasing.

Link to this web article online (English)



hawksbill sea turtle

© K. Levasseur

rafetus swinhoei


4. Hanoi, Vietnam: Harmful fishing methods threaten the world’s most endangered turtle species in Vietnam
SOURCE: – DATE: 27th April 2015

The Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) has sent out a press release on fishing methods in Dong Mo lake (Son Tay, Hanoi, Vietnam) that jeopardise the world’s most endangered turtle species - Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei). Dong Mo lake is the only known wild habitat of the species, where one individual was photographed and confirmed by the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) in 2007 in Dong Mo Lake near Hanoi. The species, believed to be on the verge of extinction, also has special cultural significance in Vietnam.

The use of harmful fishing methods such as hooked lines and electrofishing equipment is a great threat to the conservation of Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle.  The species is nationally protected under Decree 160/2013/ND-CP, this mean it is now offered the same protection as a tiger or elephant in the country.

The country’s wildlife protection authorities need to be taking a stronger role in leading efforts to protect the species and in reducing threats to the species, whether they be direct hunting risks or risk of accidental injury or death. The loss of a single Rafetus swinhoei from the small global population will have an enormous impact on the possible survival of the species.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

5. Lao Cai province, Vietnam: Hoang Lien Creature Rescue, Conservation and Development Centre received one Keeled Box Turtle
SOURCE:  - DATE: 27th April 2015

The Animal Rescue, Conservation and Development Centre under Hoang Lien national park (Lao Cai province, Vietnam) received one Keeled Box Turtle (Cuora mouhotii) from Lo Van Quang (Muong Bang commune, Quynh Nhai district, Son La province).
Lo Van Quang, a volunteer of Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), transferred the turtle weighing 520g to Hoang Lien Rescue Centre with the hope of conserving wild fauna and flora. Cuora mouhotii is listed in Appendix II of CITES and as Endangered (EN) in IUCN Red List

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Cuora mouhotii

tortoise on wheels

6. The UK: Tortoise, 90, fitted with wheels following rat attack
SOURCE: – DATE: 27th April 2015

A Pembrokeshire (Wales, the UK) tortoise which had part of its legs chewed off by a rat has been fitted with wheels. The 90-year-old tortoise, called Mrs T, had been placed in a garden shed to hibernate when the rodent attacked.
Owner, Jude Ryder, ran up a £1,000 ($1,536) vets bill before turning to her mechanical engineer son Dale, 37, for help. He used the wheels from a toy plane and designed an axle which he fitted to the tortoise's shell using resin.
Ms Ryder said: "We were afraid she may have to be put down but her new set of wheels have saved her life. She took to her new wheels straight away but she has had to learn how to turn and stop.”

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Bellinger River Snapping Turtles
T. Lowery

7. Australia: Captive breeding program could save rare Bellinger River turtle from extinction
SOURCE: – DATE: 28th April 2015

More than a dozen healthy Bellinger River Snapping Turtles (Myuchelys georgesi) have been set aside for a captive breeding program, as the species faces extinction.  A mystery virus has swept through more than 90 per cent of known habitat in the Bellinger Catchment ( New South Wales, Australia), killing every turtle it has infected. A team of vets from across the country is still working to try and identify the virus, and possibly find a cure.
But authorities have now shifted their focus to the species' survival. Ten healthy males and seven healthy females have now been removed from the Bellinger River to begin breeding in captivity. It is hoped dozens of healthy young turtles will hatch in captivity in a few months time, to potentially be released.

Link to this web article online (English)

8. Australia: Mesh protects endangered loggerhead turtle eggs from predator goannas, research finds
SOURCE: – DATE: 29th April 2015

Researchers looking at ways to protect endangered Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) eggs from hungry goannas are finding that the most effective protection is a simple piece of plastic netting buried in the sand over a nest. The tough plastic prevents goannas, natural predators for turtle hatchlings, from digging down in the sand to reach the eggs. When the turtle eggs hatch, they can still climb through the mesh to reach the surface and head for the sea.
University of Queensland scientist Dr David Booth said his team was also learning more about goanna behaviour by attaching GPS tracking devices to the reptiles.
It is all part of a collaborative project between WWF Australia and University of Queensland scientists at a nesting site at Wreck Rock Beach, halfway between Rockhampton and Gladstone (Queensland, Australia).

Link to this web article online (English)

goanna trap


trial hearing

9. Malaysia: Fined RM40,000 over five tortoises
SOURCE: – DATE: 30th April 2015

A company director was fined a total of RM40,000 ($11,221) by the Sessions Court here after he pleaded guilty to two counts of illegally possessing five Elongated Tortoises (Indotestudo elongata). The tortoise, known locally as baning lonjong, is a protected wildlife species.
Syarikat Rona Wildlife Enterprise director K. Muthukomar, 54, was fined RM10,000 ($2805) for keeping three male elongated tortoises without a special permit for the first offence.
Judge Sitarun Nisa Abdul Aziz fined him RM30,000 ($8416) for keeping two female elongated tortoises without a special permit for the second offence.

Link to this web article online (English)


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