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ATP WEEKLY TURTLE BULLETIN

No. 207, 6th November 2015

1. Vietnam: 25 Oldham's leaf turtle released to the wild
SOURCE: qtv.vn – DATE: 23rd October 2015

On the 22nd of October 2015, at Ba Mun Island of Bai Tu Long National Park (Quang Ninh province, northern Viet Nam), the Management Board of Bai Tu Long National Park in collaboration with Provincial Forest Protection Department (FPD) released 25 Oldham's leaf turtle (Cyclemys oldhamii) to Van Lau stream after rescue. Reportedly, these turtles were seized by Quang Ninh FPD, and transferred to the National Park rescue centre.

This is the third time in 2015, the 8th since the start of 2014, that Bai Tu Long National Park released rescued wildlife back into the park. There were 195 turtles of five species, including 02 Big-headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum), 103 Snail-eating turtle (Malayemys subtrijuga), 12 Yellow-headed temple turtle (Heosemys annandalii), and 04 Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) released at Van Lau stream, Ba Mun Island.

ATP NOTE: Identification of turtle species mentioned above has not been confirmed. Releasing wildlife, including turtle, after rescue back into the wild is a possible option for confiscated animals that can have conservation benefits for Vietnam. However, putting healthy animals into the correct habitats is also vital for not only that animal but also the ecosystem. We strongly recommend that field surveys need to be completed to confirm the presence of species at sites prior to actual release. Some of the species released in Bai Tu Long National Park so far are non-native to the area and the survival or impact of the species is unknown.  It is also possible that misidentification of species has taken place with some of these releases, as is sometimes seen in media releases in Vietnam where species observed in the photographs do not correspond with the species reported in the articles.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

release 25 oldhamii turtles

© qtv.vn

 

1.5 tón of snapping turtle meat seized

© startribune.com

2. The USA: The State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) seizes 1.5 tons of snapping turtle meat from Minnesota market; 3 people charged
SOURCE: startribune.com - DATE: 2nd November 2015

Three Frazee men were charged with taking turtles out of season. 

On the 29th of June 2015, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) seized nearly 1½ tons of turtle meat, 243 shells and 23 live Common Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina) from Ketter’s Meats and Locker Plant in Frazee (Becker County, Minnesota, the USA). The meat was in 291 10-pound (4.54kg) packs. The live turtles have been returned to the wild, the DNR said.

Kevin R. Ketter, 54, the shop owner, his nephew, M. Ketter, and a market employee, Darwin D. Bartel, have been charged with ­taking snapping turtles out of season. Kevin Ketter is accused of buying turtles and possessing them in June – the closed season. The season for taking snapping turtles is the 1st of July through the 30th of April, with a limit of three, and a state license is required. They are often taken with traps or nets.

ATP Note: this story highlights how illegal hunting and trade is still impact turtles globally even in countries which are considered to have strong wildlife protection laws. This cases involves a large number of animals.

Link to this web article online (English)

golden coin turtle

© giadinh.net.vn

3. First Vietnamese article ever warns public against Golden turtle slaughtering & trading
SOURCE: giadinh.net.vn – DATE: 28th September 2015

On the 28th of September 2015, Giadinh.net.vn, the official online website of the Family and Society Newspaper has published an article written by journalist Minh Anh which warned public against violation related to the golden turtle (Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle - Cuora trifasciata).

The article reports that transportation, processing, advertising, sales, use, stockpiling, export and import of Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle which is protected under Decree 160/2013/ND-CP are prohibited. Organizations and individuals that commit acts that violate these regulations on management of this critically endangered turtle species, given the nature and seriousness of their violations, can be handled administratively, individuals may prosecuted for criminal liability in accordance with current provisions of law.

ATP NOTE: This is the first Vietnamese media has strongly and clearly stated that Cuora trifasciata are fully protected under Vietnamese law. Spreading this information will hopefully help reduce illegal trade in this species and act as a deterrent.  In the past it has been more usual for media to report the high value of this species which only goes to encourage hunting, hopefully this is a positive development that will be replicated more to increase awareness of protection in Vietnam.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

4. India: Tenant quits flat, a mini-menagerie of pets left starving and thirsty, among those found during raid were an Indian star tortoise, a protected species.
SOURCE: bangaloremirror.com - DATE: 2nd November 2015

On Tuesday (the 27th of October 2015), two animal lovers, media professional Niti Bakshi and Animal Welfare Officer Meet Ashar found an abandoned flat (in Bhayander, Maharashtra, India) where pets had been left without water and food for 10 days by their owners, who had allegedly been made to leave the apartment for not paying rent. The house contained six starved rabbits, a love bird, three filthy fish tanks, of which one contained a dead turtle and Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans), an animal protected under Schedule 4 of the Wildlife Protection Act and deemed illegal to be kept as a pet. 

The rabbits and love bird were immediately adopted by animal lover Fizzah Shah, whose farm is home to over 300 homeless, paralysed and elderly animals.

Link to this web article online (English)

5. Hong Kong: Found Green Sea Turtle Killed by Ingesting Plastics and Other Marine Litter
SOURCE: ecowatch.com – DATE: 2nd November 2015

On the 27th of Oct 2015, a Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) was found dead on a beach in Sai Kung, Hong Kong, with its stomach and intestines filled with plastic and other marine debris, underscoring the growing crisis of ocean pollution. Green turtles are a protected species in Hong Kong and listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

This incident in Hong Kong highlights the disturbing fact that human-caused trash is a growing threat to aquatic life. The WWF’s Coastal Watch conducted a comprehensive survey on marine litter on coastal habitats in Hong Kong from July 2014 and May 2015, and concluded that plastic trash is a severe threat to all marine ecosystems.

Link to this web article online (English)

6. The USA: Entanglement likely contributed to leatherback turtle's death
SOURCE: capecodtoday.com - DATE: 2nd November 2015

On Saturday (the 31st of October 2015), a 813-lb (369 kg) Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) was found dead on south of Woods Hole,  towed to land by a Massachusetts Environmental Police boat was then transferred to New England Aquarium's sea turtle hospital in Quincy (Massachusetts, the USA) for a necropsy. The necropsy revealed that the entanglement likely contributed to the leatherback's death. The wounds were consistent with the turtle having been entangled in fishing gear and she also had a two-foot piece of marine rope in her mouth.

Biologists are working to find ways to protect turtles from entanglement including researching how and what turtles can see and what types of modifications can be made to marine gear.

Note: the story highlights that entanglement is a significant threat that causes leatherback turtle's death, and deaths in other species, and the increasing need for effort to protect the turtle from this threat.

Link to this web article online (English)

813lb leatherback turtle die from entanglement

© New England Aquarium

dinner with turtle eggs served for minister

© The Star

7. Malaysia: Sabah to probe photos of minister being served turtle eggs in Sandakan
SOURCE: thestar.com.my – DATE: 4th November 2015

A probe will be launched over photos of a federal minister being served what appears to be turtle eggs in Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia. The photographs show Rural and Regional Development Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob having dinner at a seafood restaurant together with Beluran Umno chief, Datuk James Ratib. A plate of what appears to be at least two-dozen turtle eggs is seen on the table before them.  Turtles are protected under the under Sabah Wildlife Enactment 1997. 

The photographs, which have gone viral on social media, have sparked an outcry among conservationists. State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun said an investigation was initiated after the photographs surfaced. 

Link to this web article online (English)

 

 
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