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No. 232, 29th April 2016

1. Cambodia: Cambodia’s Royal turtle’s survival ‘at risk’
SOURCE: – DATE: 26th April 2016

It has been reported this week that possibly fewer than 10 breeding females of the royal turtles, also known as the southern river terrapin (Batagur affinis), are left in Cambodia.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) reported in a press release. Threats against “its very survival due to habitat loss caused by increased sand dredging and illegal clearance of flooded forest”.

The turtle, now believed to exist only along the Sre Ambel River in Koh Kong province, Cambodia has long been among the world’s most endangered turtle species. “These forest habitats are key for their survival, providing shelter and diverse food for their diet,” explained Som Sitha, a technical adviser with WSC’s Sre Ambel Conservation Project.

Following nest protection and head starting activities on the Are Ambel river 21 turtles were fitted with acoustic transmitters and released last year. Three were found 97 kilometres from where they were released in a different river system.

Link to this web article online (English)

Cambodia royal turtle


turtle rescued by foreigner

© M. Reefman

turtle rescued by foreigner

© M. Reefman

2. Vietnam: Green Sea Turtle rescued from restaurant by Dutch national and release to freedom 
SOURCE: – DATE: 25th April 2016 

A businessman, Mr Mark Ketelaars who has been in Vietnam for over 17 years rescued a Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) being kept in a tank at a local restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. Listed as endangered by the IUCN and protected under Vietnamese laws Mark said “It’s awful to see that exotic animals of Vietnam that ought to be protected are ending up as entrées”.

Marine turtles are rapidly vanishing from Vietnam’s waters and illegal trade is largely to blame. A lot of Vietnamese are still not aware of legislation put in place to protect endangered animal species such as Green Sea Turtles. Although people are getting more familiar with the concept of extinction, there is no indication of an understanding of the relationship between consumption habits and the state of the environment.

The Fisheries Department in Binh Thuan province were involved in a trip to Mui Ne town to release the turtle on the 23rd of April 2016, 8 km off shore from a vessel arranged by the Fisheries Department.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

3. Vietnam: The Hoang Lien National Park Centre for Rescue and Conservative Organism (CRCO) finished the construction of their holding tanks for Big-headed Turtles
SOURCE: – DATE: 27th April 2016

The Hoang Lien National Park Centre for Rescue and Conservative Organism (CRCO) has finished the construction of their holding tanks for Big-headed Turtles (Platysternon megacephalum). In the mountainous province of Lao Cai and within sight of Vietnam's highest mountain the centre is ideal for keeping the species, which lives in cool mountain streams. The centre is being developed as part of a project with the Zoological Society of London.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

4. The USA: Successful Propagation of the Chinese Big-headed turtle at Prospect Park Zoo
SOURCE: - DATE: 26th April 2016

Chinese Big-headed Turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) are Southeast Asian freshwater turtles endemic to Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, and Viet Nam. They inhabit cold temperature fast-moving, rocky, mountain rivers or streams and are considered taxonomically monotypic (family Platysternidae).

Successful long-term captive propagation within US zoological institutions has not yet been established and this species is known to be difficult to propagate and incubate with only sporadic success in the private sector. In 2008 the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Prospect Park Zoo (New York, the USA) endeavoured to take on the challenge of propagating this species in captivity. After five years the team’s efforts paid off when 5 Big-headed Turtles hatched between 14th and 19th November, 2013 from a breeding pair consisting of a 14 year old female and 12 year old male.  In addition, the program has had consecutive years of success with this same pair in 2014 & 2015, giving us a total of 13 hatchlings since the inception of the program.

Link to this web article online (English)

big-headed turtle hatchling

© J. L. Maher

big-headed turtle hatchling


bellinger river snapping turtle

© New South Wales Scientific Committee

5. Australia: New South Wales Scientific Committee lists north coast turtle as critically endangered
SOURCE: – DATE: 28th April 2016

A New South Wales north coast turtle species, Bellinger River Snapping Turtle (Elseya georgesi), is now considered to be on the brink of extinction after a mystery virus all but wiped it out 12 months ago.

The New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage said the source of the virus had still not been pinpointed. In February last year hundreds of dead and dying turtles washed up on the banks of the Bellinger River, on the New South Wales mid north coast.  Office of Environment and Heritage regional manager Don Arnold said there were very few Bellinger River Snapping Turtles left in the waterway.

Link to this web article online (English)

6. Australia: Pictured: Giant freshwater turtle called Leonardo has barely enough room in his tank to turn around - but reptile park says they're a 'sedentary species'
SOURCE: – DATE: 29th April 2016

The heart-breaking sight of a giant freshwater turtle surviving in a fish tank with 'barely enough room to turn around' has angered visitors to a popular reptile park.

'Leonardo' is Australia's largest Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii), he weighs in at around 45kg and is half a metre long but he lives in a cramped fish tank in a small dark room.

Melinda Sheldon first saw Leonardo at the Australian Reptile Park in Gosford (New South Wales, Australia) in November and hasn't been able to get him off her mind. Ms Sheldon says he has been in the same tank since his arrival in 2000, despite doubling in size.

Unsatisfied with the response from the reptile park Ms Sheldon decided to take Leonardo's story public and create an online petition. More than 16,000 people have signed the petition that asks for Leonardo to be moved to a bigger space.

Link to this web article online (English)

Alligator Snapping Turtle



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