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No. 195, 14th August 2015

1. Hong Kong: Airport X-ray machine nails smuggled live turtles
SOURCE: – DATE: 11th August 2015

Dozens of live turtles were intercepted while being smuggled into Hong Kong when they showed up on an airport X-ray machine. All 95 reptiles in five boxes, believed to be endangered species, were seized by customs authorities in Chek Lap Kok airport of Hong Kong, according to Headline Daily. The turtles were worth about HK$95,000 (US$12,250).

The shipment was declared as used books and was sent from Los Angeles via Japan’s Narita airport. It was set to be forwarded by Hong Kong Post to an unspecified address. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department is investigating the incident.

Link to this web article online (English)

Turtles seized in Hong Kong

2. The USA: Illinois Man Sentenced for Violating the Lacey Act

SOURCE: – DATE: 5th August 2015

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that on the 5th of August 2015, Keith Cantore, age 35, of Monee, Illinois, was sentenced for violating the Lacey Act by attempting to purchase threatened turtles that were captured in violation of state law.

U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt sentenced Cantore to 41 months incarceration, to be followed by three years of supervised release and $100 special assessment. Additionally, Cantore was ordered to pay approximately $41,000 in restitution.

According to court records, Cantore was charged with three counts of purchasing and/or attempting to purchase threatened species of turtles that were illegally captured from the wild. Cantore pled guilty to attempted purchase of 100 North American Wood Turtles (Glyptemys insculpta) for $40,000.

Link to this web article online (English)

tortoises stolen in Hong Kong© Coconuts Hong Kong

3. Hong Kong: Housewife allegedly steals 6 tortoises worth HKD90,000 from pet shop, sets them free
SOURCE: – DATE: 7th July 2015

A woman was charged with two counts of theft after she allegedly stole six tortoises – worth a whopping HKD 90,720 ($11,693)  - from a pet store and set them free in the Hong Kong Wetland Park.

On the 30th of July 2015, the housewife, aged 37 and surnamed Chung, went to a pet shop in Yuen Long (New Territories West, Hong Kong) and stole some tortoises. The next day, obviously emboldened by her success, she went back to try and snatch some more, but got caught. In the end she stole four Eastern African Leopard Tortoises (Stigmochelys pardalis) and two Aldabra Giant Tortoises (Aldabrachelys gigantea), reports Oriental Daily.

Link to this web article online (English)

4. Australia: Colonisation benefits illustrated via tortoise program
SOURCE: – DATE: 10th August 2015

Moving species outside of their native habitat to protect them from threats like climate change is becoming a more accepted approach and sometimes is a last resort for certain species, according to a review of the technique.

A recent study including Perth Zoo researchers considered the tool, known as assisted colonisation and its effectiveness with critically endangered animals like the Western Swamp Tortoise (Pseudemydura umbrina). Assisted colonisation has been used throughout the world and within Australia to conserve species but only gained recognition from the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2013. Forty five populations of 33 different species have been established successfully as a result of assisted colonisation in Australia but concerns have been raised over translocated species themselves becoming invasive in their new habitat.

Link to this web article online (English)

western swamp turtle

© D. Scarparolo

5. Binh Thuan province, Vietnam: protected sea turtles hatch in Hon Cau
SOURCE: – DATE: 11th August 2015

The Management Board of Hon Cau Nature Reserve under Binh Thuan’s Fisheries Department (Vietnam) protected 4 sea turtle nests and released over 250 baby sea turtles into the sea.

It has been reported that the 4 sea turtle nests consisted of more than 300 eggs, three of which were protected and naturally hatched. For security reasons the fourth nest was removed to a more secure location by the patrol.

Hon Cau is a favorite nesting beach for sea turtles and Binh Thuan’s Fisheries Department intends to establish a turtle hatching site to conserve the species.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

6. India: Star tortoises seized at airport
SOURCE: – DATE: 11th August 2015

Customs officials at the Cochin International Airport (Kochi, Kerala, India) on Monday (the 10th of August 2015) seized 199 Star Tortoises (Geochelone elegans) from the baggage of a Malaysia-bound passenger.

The accused, who was about to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur late in the evening, attempted to  pass through the green channel and told Customs that he was not carrying anything that needed to be declared. However, an examination of his baggage revealed that he had concealed live ornamental turtles in it, which is valued at several lakh rupees in the international market.

The accused persons and seized materials have been handed over to the Forest department for further investigation.

Link to this web article online (English)

7. Mexico: Precious turtle eggs stolen from Mexican beach
SOURCE: – DATE: 12th August 2015

Video footage shows poachers stealing threatened turtle eggs from a Oaxaca beach of Mexico, reports Angela Moore.

Precious turtle eggs may be the latest casualty of Mexico's violent crime problem. Eggs from the threatened Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) are being poached at an enormous rate along Mexico's southern coast - a prime nesting site. The video captures several poachers operating in broad daylight. The turtles come to the coast every year to lay their eggs in the sand, but environmentalists say up to 80 per cent of the turtle eggs are stolen because there is no one to protect them.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

baby albino green sea turtle

© Mercury

baby albino green sea turtle

© Mercury

8. Mozambique: Rare turtles leave scientists shell-shocked
SOURCE: – DATE: 13th August 2015

Scientists in East Africa we're left astounded when they found a group of extremely rare albino baby turtles.

The pale hatchlings had to be helped out of their nest by biologist Joana Trindade, who has been looking after rare Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) on the island of Vamizi for the last ten years. Vamizi is the biggest known nesting beach for Green turtles in Mozambique, and one of the biggest in East Africa, with close to 200 nests a year. Threats from poaching and a high mortality rate when young mean every batch of new eggs is closely monitored every day. Luckily these little ones were given a helping hand to make it from the beach to the sea after getting stuck behind their siblings in the nest.

Link to this web article online (English)


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