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No. 233, 6th May 2016

1. The USA: Jailed Turtle Trafficker Files for Appeal
SOURCE: - DATE: 29th April 2016

Convicted turtle trafficker Kai Xu plans to appeal the five-year prison sentence handed down to him on the 13th of April, 2016, by a United States District Court for six counts of smuggling.

Xu has already managed to avoid the maximum punishment for his crimes, which would have been a $1.5 million fine and/or 60 years in prison ($250,000 and/or ten years for each count).

Xu organized a turtle trafficking network that moved thousands of protected turtles from the United States to China, and between the United States and Canada. He recruited Chinese-Canadian runners and brokered deals with a turtle trader in China. Although Xu was charged with just six turtle trafficking incidents, court documents describe him as “savvy with border crossings” and show that he actually crossed the border more than twenty times in 2014.

Link to this web article online (English)

Box turtle possing for camera

© U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

release 6 rare sea turtles to the sea

© Tran Mai

2. Quang Ngai province, Vietnam: release of 6 rare sea turtles to the sea
SOURCE: – DATE: 5th May 2016

On the 4th of May, the Aquatic Resource Exploitation and Protection Department of Quang Ngai province in collaboration with Binh Hai Border Guards released 6 rare sea turtles back to the sea.

Earlier, about 12:00 that day, when patrolling coastal area of Binh Chau commune, Binh Son district, Quang Ngai province, the border guards found a crowd. The crowd quickly left, leaving behind sea turtles including 5 Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and 1 Hawkbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). The turtles weigh 45kg in total. The border guards informed the case to the Aquatic Resource Exploitation and Protection Department of Quang Ngai province. Before being released, the turtles were attached with ID tags to monitor their growth and migration route.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

3. Mexico: Fewer people are eating Bolson tortoise
Their numbers are up as a result of conservation measures
SOURCE: - DATE: 2nd May 2016

A tortoise native to the Chihuahuan Desert of north-central Mexico was driven to near extinction by hunting and shifting weather patterns, but in just a few years it has revived and become a source of income and pride for some of the locals.

The Bolson tortoise, also known as the Mexican giant tortoise or by its scientific name, Gopherus flavomarginatus, was first identified by scientists in the 1950s after they witnessed a peculiar tortoise shell being used to feed chickens.

Link to this web article online (English)

Bolson tortoise

© Turtle Conservancy

gopher tortoise


4. The USA: Prescribed burn in Bradenton kills protected wildlife
SOURCE: – DATE: 5th May 2016

The death of a Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) during a recent prescribed burn is raising questions about how Manatee County (Florida, the USA) staff handles its land management.

A Bradenton couple found the tortoise one day after a 16-acre (64749.7m2) burn at Robinson Preserve (Bradenton, Florida, the USA).

Staff say they were surprised to see the turtle in the area. A survey of the land before and after the burn revealed no tortoise burrows, and county officials say the property's high water table makes for a difficult habitat.

Gopher tortoises are classified as a threatened species by Florida Fish & Wildlife, which is why the agency opened an investigation into the incident once a complaint was filed.

Link to this web article online (English)

5. The USA: Couple gets prison for smuggling sea turtle eggs
SOURCE: - DATE: 6th May 2016

A Southern California couple was sentenced Friday to six months in prison for smuggling more than 900 endangered sea turtle eggs into the U.S. from Mexico, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

On the 19th of February, Jose and Olga Jimenez pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, smuggling and unlawful trafficking related to wildlife.

At the sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammartino said the case involved the largest seizure ever of sea turtle eggs imported from Mexico, according to the Attorney’s Office.

Link to this web article online (English)

sea turtle egg smuggling

© U.S. Attorney's Office


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