Asian Turtle Program
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No. 200, 19th September 2015

1. Quang Ninh province, Vietnam: Turtles and pheasants released back to nature
SOURCE: – DATE: 14th September 2015

Bai Tu Long National Park in collaboration with Quang Ninh Forest Protection Department (FPD) released 22 Buorret's Box Turtles (Cuora bourreti), 6 Malayan Box Turtles (Cuora amboinensis), 2 Four-eyed Turtles (Sacalia quadriocellata) and 6 Common Pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) back to nature at Ba Mun Island, Van Don, Quang Ninh province. These animals had been handed over by Quang Ninh FPD were looked after by the Bai Tu Long National Park Wildlife Rescue Centre until their release.

ATP NOTE: the article clearly states Cuora bourreti, a species found in central Vietnam and not native to Quang Ninh Province. Also Cuora amboinensis is a species only found in southern Vietnam bad not native to the north. As such release of these two species onto the islands within Bai Tu Long National Park that comprises a series of islands would be unsuitable. Surveys should be used to determine the species that naturally occur and only suitable species released after adequate screening etc.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

release 700kg of snakes and turtles


2. Vietnam: A Spot-billed pelican and 700 kg of snakes and turtles released to the wild
SOURCE: – DATE: 17th September 2015

Recently, Tram Chim National Park (Dong Thap province, Vietnam) has received, taken care of, and then released a 7-year-old Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) to the wild. On the 13th and 14th of September 2015, in an attempt to protecting wildlife and enriching biodiversity at Tram Chim National Park, many Buddhists released 600 kg of snakes and many Malayan Snail-eating Turtles (Malayemys subtrijuga) weighing more than 100kg to the park. The snakes and turtles had been collected in local market.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

3. The USA: Asian turtles called ecological threat in Northeast
SOURCE: – DATE: 12th September 2015

The spotting of two such turtles south of Boston arouses concern of the threat they pose to small creatures.

Two odd-looking Chinese soft-shelled marsh turtles (Pelodiscus sinensis) raised for food in Asia have been seen in the wild south of Boston (Massachusetts, the USA), and there’s concern they could eventually threaten ecosystems if they become established in New England.

New England Aquarium experts said Saturday it is possible someone decided to release the animals after buying them for cooking. They urge people not to release non-native animals into the wild, and to report any sightings of the soft-shelled turtle.

ATP NOTE: the species is common in wildlife farms throughout much of southeast Asia, particularly China and Vietnam.  However the farm species, Pelodiscus sinensis, is actually a different from the wild species, Pelodiscus paviformis, so even within the Southeast Asia region farm escapes and releases are likely having negative impacts on wild, native, species. 

Link to this web article online (English)

concern when Chinese softshell turtle is witnessed

© The Associated Press

© Daily Mail

leather back sea turtle nesting disturbed

© Georgratia CR

4. Sea turtles' chance to beat extinction destroyed by a selfie: Mob of eco-tourists stop endangered creatures from laying their eggs by invading Costa Rica beach to POSE with them
SOURCE: – DATE: 15th September 2015

Costa Rican authorities have launched an investigation after a mob of irresponsible tourists and locals prevented sea turtles from laying their eggs along the country’s Pacific coast.

Crowds swarmed the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, in north-western Guanacaste, and disrupted the nesting ritual for a number of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea), which are listed as a vulnerable or threatened species.

As they gathered in the hundreds, the visitors stood in the turtles’ way as they swam ashore and even placed children on top of them to snap keepsake photos, causing many of the creatures to return to the sea without laying their eggs.

Link to this web article online (English)

leather back sea turtle nesting disturbed

© Georgratia CR

leather back sea turtle nesting disturbed

© Georgratia CR

5. Marine population halved since 1970 – report
SOURCE: – DATE: 16th September 2015

Populations of marine mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have declined by 49% since 1970, a report says. The study says some species people rely on for foods are faring even worse, noting a 74% drop in the populations of tuna and mackerel. In addition to human activity such as overfishing, the report also says climate change is having an impact. The document was prepared by the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

sea creatures decline

© Science Photo Library

© You Tube

rising sea level impacts sea turtle nesting

© J. Abemethy

6. How rising seas could sink the sea turtle
SOURCE: – DATE: 16th September 2015

At the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, a focal point for sea turtle reproduction, effects of global warming on sea turtles have already been witnessed.

The sex of sea turtles is determined by its environment. Hot weather produces more females, while cooler temperatures make more males. With global warming and more summers of droughts, scientists are seeing a dangerous shift in the pattern toward females. A trend toward too few males may also weaken the population’s genetic diversity, making the turtles more prone to disease.

Storm surge can jeopardize turtle diversity. An uptick in storm surges in recent years means that more nests are flooding, which suffocates the eggs or washes them out and out entirely.

Beach erosion, which results in the land shortage for turtle nesting, is another threat to sea turtles. More of their nests are landing in narrow, heavily eroded beaches that can’t ebb and flow due to urban development.

Link to this web article online (English)

7. China: Animal traffickers busted with 1.4 million yuan ($218,000) in contraband
SOURCE: – DATE: 16th September 2015

Police in western Yunnan province of China have taken three people into custody suspected of trafficking and selling endangered animal products. The arrests took place in Dehong Prefecture following a month-long investigation. More than 200 items were seized, including tiger claws and teeth, tiger skins, red deer antlers, rhino horns, snake skins and jewellery which was believed to have been carved out of elephant ivory. Police estimated the seized items to be worth a combined 1.39 million yuan (US$218,000).

This case is not unfamiliar territory for Yunnan police, although its scope is larger than most. The province has long been a known entrepot for smuggled animal products. China is the world’s largest importer of illegal animals, most of them illegally used in Traditional Chinese Medicine prescriptions or as trophies for wealthy collectors. By some estimates 70 per cent of all such goods enter the country though Yunnan, Guangxi and Guangdong.

Link to this web article online (English)

tiger skin


8 Australia: Rangers seeking 'turtle patrol' team for Canberra nature reserve
SOURCE: – DATE: 18th September 2015

Rangers at the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary in Canberra's north have put a call out for a group of dedicated "turtle patrollers" to help these shelled residents move safely in and out of the sanctuary. The installation of a predator proof fence has obstructed the migration patterns of the Eastern Long-neck Turtle (Chelodina longicollis) between the sanctuary and Yerrabi Ponds. On days when the mercury rises, turtles which become trapped in the fence can become distressed or even die.

Link to this web article online (English)

help eastern long neck turtle cross the road

© S. Brown

help eastern long neck turtle cross the road© D. Kleinert


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