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ATP WEEKLY TURTLE BULLETIN

No. 208, 13th November 2015

1. The USA: Female biased green sea turtle sex ratio in San Diego Bay.
SOURCE: sciencedaily.com – DATE: 3rd November 2015

Scientists published the first time determination of the ratio of males to females in a wild foraging group of Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the Eastern Pacific, which suggests that sea turtles may be vulnerable to feminization from the temperature rises expected with climate change. The sex of sea turtles is determined by incubation temperatures on the nesting beaches, with warmer sand temperatures producing more females. Research published recently in the journal PLOS ONE focused on the San Diego Bay (California, the USA) aggregation of Green Turtles, a threatened species that has been studied for more than 25 years, and scientists found that the sex ratio leans heavily toward females.

Link to this web article online (English)

Green Sea Turtle

© C. Allen

 

Indian Star Turtle

© therakyatpost.com

2. Malaysia: Perhilitan (Malaysia's Department of Wildlife and National Parks) needs help to curb sales of Indian Star Tortoise online
SOURCE: therakyatpost.com – DATE: 5th November 2015

As the Internet’s anonymity makes it harder to curb online sales of the Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans), which is on the rise in Malaysia. TRAFFIC - a wildlife trade monitoring network- wants more government agencies to assist Malaysia’s Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) in its war against the illegal trade.

However, it difficult to track or prosecute the buyers and sellers because the anonymity and sheer volume of posts, cyberspace also presented too many variables. In some cases, they may not have the authority to investigate matters online and would require assistance from the police and agencies dealing with cyber-crime or e-commerce. Therefore, the Perhilitan might not have the resources to tackle this problem alone, Serene Chng, the TRAFFIC’s Southeast Asia (Pets and Fashion) programme officer said.

Link to this web article online (English)

3. India: Three arrested with 35 tortoises of rare species
SOURCE: timesofindia.indiatimes.com – DATE: 7th November 2015

On the 7th November 2015, three wildlife smugglers were arrested with rare species of tortoise in Huzupur area (Uttar Pradesh, India) by policeman.

Three accused involved in the case were arrested after 35 tortoises of rare species were allegedly found from their possession in Bagaddwa village. Police said that the accused have been sent to jail and the recovered tortoise would be released in river after permission from the court.

ATP NOTE: the turtle species involved in this case have not been confirmed yet.

Link to this web article online (English)

4. Australia: Researchers take to the skies to discover turtle 'hot spots'
SOURCE: brisbanetimes.com.au – DATE: 9th November 2015

In a joint project between WWF Australia and the Queensland Government's Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, a helicopter survey was conducted along the Whitsunday-Burdekin-Townsville coastline. The survey discovered 185 previously unrecorded turtle nesting 'hot spots' of Flatback Turtles (Natator depressus) and Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) as well as many turtle 'hot spots' overlapped with feral pig tracks, which indicated feral pigs were targeting these turtle nest sites.

WWF Australia's Species Conservation Project Coordinator Christine Hof hoped the comprehensive survey would contribute to better on-ground conservation programs. Beside, Queensland Government research scientist Dr Ian Bell said aerial surveys like this could provide a more comprehensive understanding of turtle nesting sites and feral pig movements.

Link to this web article online (English)

turtle hot spots in Queenland

© Alamy

xiaochelys ningchensis

© sciencerecorder.com

5. China: Exquisite fossil of new Cretaceous turtle discovered in China
SOURCE: sciencerecorder.com – DATE: 12th November 2015

Paleontologists have described a new species of prehistoric turtle that lived about 125 million years ago in China, during the Early Cretaceous Epoch, which took place between 145 and 100.5 million years ago.
The new species, Xiaochelys ningchengensis, has been named by Chang-Fu Zhou of Shenyang Normal University in Shenyang, China, and Márton Rabi of the University of Tübingen in Tübingen, Germany. Their scientific paper was published online on the 10th of November 2015 in the open-access journal Scientific Reports and is freely accessible to the public.

Xiaochelys ningchengensis is known from a single beautifully preserved skeleton found in a geological layer called the Yixian Formation (Jinzhou, Liaoning, China), which has produced abundant superb fossils of dinosaurs and other animals. The researchers say X. ningchengensis is a member of the extinct turtle group Sinemydidae, which includes several other species of Early Cretaceous Asian turtles.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

6. India: Legal loopholes driving Indian Star Tortoise to extinction
SOURCE: thehindu.com – DATE: 13th November 2015

The Indian Star Tortoises (Geochelone elegans)’ survival is under threat by booming illegal trade as they are popular pet for collectors around the world. Recently, researchers from World Animal Protection have established that more than 55,000 tortoises are being poached from just one site alone in south-east India each year. In the first study to examine the trade of Indian Star Tortoise for over 15 years, the World Animal Protection has put forth evidence of a thriving international criminal operation, with tortoises being smuggled in boxes hidden under food items like vegetables or fish. It also expresses legitimate concern about poachers having found a legal loophole in facilitating illegal poaching.

The study published in the scientific journal ‘Nature Conservation’ describes Thailand, one of the primary destinations for the smuggled animals, as a hub of illegal trade activity.

In order to save the tortoises from extinction and close the ‘loophole’, wildlife experts are calling for better cooperation between national enforcement agencies and for Thailand to prohibit private ownership by extending its domestic legislation to also cover non-native species.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

Indian Star Tortoise

© Pandiyan

Red Eared Slider turtle

© thehansindia.com

7. India: Exotic fish, turtle pose threat to ecosystem
SOURCE: thehansindia.com – DATE: 13th November 2015

Exotic species of fish and turtles in water bodies are causing concern among scientists and officials of the Biodiversity Board as they are upsetting ecosystem. These exotic species are threatening the very existence of native species, according to scientists.

For instance, the Red Eared Slider Turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) which arrived from North America as a “pet” species is found in many fresh water bodies. Lack of restrictions on importing this species has encouraged some to keep them as pets. There are 27 species of turtles in India. But, the Forest Department does not allow them to keep them as pets. The Red Eared Slider Turtle, however, which is being imported, does not come under the ambit of these restrictions. When the Red Eared Slider Turtles grow bigger, its owners release them into the in the wild, and this aggressive creatures could do harm to other aquatic species.

Link to this web article online (English)

 
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