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No. 235, 20th May 2016

1. Vietnam: Big-headed turtle and pangolins confiscated at International Border Gate in Nghe An province, central Vietnam
SOURCE: – DATE: 18th May 2016

In northern Vietnam the Customs Department of Nghe An province stated that the Customs Sub-department of Nam Can International Border Gate collaborated with the Border Guards of Nam Can International Border Gate to confiscate 2 cases of illegally transported wildlife and timber that was without documents of origin.

At 10:00 on the 16th of May 2016, when patrolling at Nam Can International Border Gate, they found 10 turtles and 2 pangolins (7.5 kg in total) hidden in the luggage of a man named Nguyen Van D., resident of Dien Hong Commune, Dien Chau District, Nghe An Province. Mr. D. confessed he had bought these animals in Laos to bring back and sell for a profit in Vietnam.

ATP NOTE: We have confirmed that 10 turtles seized from this case are endangered Big-headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum) which are Endangered on the IUCN red list, CITES appendix I listed and protected under Vietnamese law Decree 32. The local NGO, Saving Vietnam's Wildlife (SVW) is reducing the pangolins and assisting in transporting the turtles back to the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) at Cuc Phuong National Park. Great work everyone.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

big-headed turtles


2. Malaysia: Turtle deaths rising due to stingray demand
SOURCE: – DATE: 14th May 2016

Iconic mascot of Terengganu in Malaysia, the turtle, is dying. The irony – it is not being killed or hunted but has become the victim of the hunger for another marine creature, the stingray. Metres of illegalnets (pukat pari), laid out to catch stingrays along the shores of the state – some as close as 30m from the beach – are also trapping and drowning the turtles.  With months to go until the nesting season ends for these reptiles, the state Fishery Department said 30 marine turtles had died in the first four months of this year.

Link to this web article online (English)

marine turtles in Malaysia

© WWF Malaysia

Chica the turtle with tumors

© Caters News Agency

Chica the turtle with tumors

© Caters News Agency

3. The USA: She's really coming out of her shell: Endangered sea turtle has a giant tumour removed from her right jaw

SOURCE: - DATE: 14th May 2016

Photographs of a rehabilitating Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) named Chica show the incredible recovery she's made after a massive tumour was removed from her jaw.

Found off the coast of the Florida Keys, Chica was diagnosed with fibropapilloma, a common disease that causes tumours to grow on the soft tissue of turtles.

Chica underwent surgery at Turtle Hospital rehabilitation centre in Marathon, Florida, the USA, and the two-pound (907grams) tumour was removed. She will stay at the hospital for a year to ensure growths do not come back before release into wild.

Link to this web article online (English)

4. Vietnam: Endangered sea turtle rescued after being traded on the street in northern Vietnam
SOURCE: – DATE: 17th May 2016

Reportedly, on the 13th of May 2016, Quang Ninh province traffic police officers in Northern Vietnam rescued a 40 kg protected sea turtle from a man who had bought it illegally in the province. According to the police, the driver said that he had bought this animal for VND15 million (approx. US$670) from a local farmer who caught it in his fish farm.

ATP NOTE: According to the local NGO, Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV), this turtle was not seized on the road but the driver had voluntarily handed over this animal since he knew it is protected under national law. In addition, image appears to be a Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), not Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) as reported in the article.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

sea turtle traded in Northern Vietnam

© Minh Cuong

152 turtles smuggled in Uganda

© S. Wandera

5. Uganda: URA Impounds 152 Tortoises Valued At Shs2.5 Billion
SOURCE: - DATE: 17th May 2016

The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) on Monday (16th May 2016) impounded 152 tortoises from the Eastern Uganda district of Mbale.

The tortoises were displayed to the media on Tuesday (17th May 2016) at a media conference, with URA officials revealing that they had been concealed in sacks. The tortoises were said to be handed over to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). The tortoises are to be returned to Nakapiririt where the smugglers are alleged to have picked them from.

ATP NOTE: As seen from the picture, the turtles appear to be Leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis).

Link to this web article online (English)

6. Study proves removing beach debris increases sea turtle nests
SOURCE: – DATE: 17th May 2016

Conventional wisdom says removing beach debris helps sea turtles nest; now, as sea-turtle nesting season gets underway, a new University of Florida study proves it.

Clearing the beach of flotsam and jetsam increased the number of nests by as much as 200 per cent, the study shows, while leaving the detritus decreased the number by nearly 50 per cent.

From the 1st of May to the 1st of September each year, from 2011 through 2014, Ikuko Fujisaki, the study's lead author and an assistant research professor of wildlife ecology and conservation with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and her colleagues conducted an experiment along the Gulf Coast near Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle, Florida, the USA. They sought to understand the effects of large debris on sea turtle nesting activities. During the experiment, researchers recorded locations of nests and false crawls, defined as the number of times that sea turtles emerge from the Gulf waters but do not lay eggs. Researchers also removed large debris. They found sea turtle nests increased where scientists removed debris.

Fujisaki's findings are published online in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology.

Link to this web article online (English)

7. Just keep swimming! Turtle hatchlings follow artificial light on water, increasing their risk of being eaten in the shallows
SOURCE: – DATE: 17th May 2016

Researchers from the University of Western Australia examined the effect of artificial light on the near-shore trajectories of turtle hatchlings dispersing from the beaches where they were born.

The study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, is the first to show wild turtle hatchlings are attracted to artificial light after entering the ocean, a behaviour that is likely to subject them to greater risk of predation.

The experts tagged 40 Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) hatchlings with miniature acoustic transmitters to track their movements using an underwater array of 36 acoustic receivers placed in the near shore zone. Half of these hatchlings were dazzled by artificial light leaving the beach. However, the study notes that while hatchlings were attracted to artificial light and basked in it, they were 'not trapped indefinitely by the light and eventually continued their swim offshore'.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

sea turtle

© Getty images

sea turtle hatchling

© Banco de Imagem Projeto Tamar

8. Turtle hatchlings lend each other a flipper to save energy
SOURCE: - DATE: 19th May 2016

Newborn sea turtles do not have it easy. Hatchlings take nearly eight days to dig through 40 centimetres of sand to emerge from their nests, and then need extra energy to traverse a long stretch of beach to the ocean. However, new research suggests turtle hatchlings work together with clutch mates to escape their underground nests – and the more they team up, the less energy they waste.

Researchers from the University of Queensland and the Universiti Malaysia Terengganu set out to measure the amount of energy used by green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) hatchlings to burrow from the nest to the beach surface. Experiments were conducted in specially designed egg chambers that carefully mimicked natural beach-hatching conditions - down to the grain quality of the sand. The researchers observed that the combined digging of hatchlings significantly reduced individual energy consumption.

The findings, published today in the Journal of Experimental Biology, may influence sea turtle conservation efforts worldwide, especially the practice of splitting egg clutches.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

9. The USA: Salmonella outbreaks are being caused by turtles
SOURCE: – DATE: 19th May 2016

Small turtles may be cute but they are making people sick. That was the warning from U.S. federal health officials on Wednesday (the 18th of May 2016).

Between January 2015 and April of this year there have been four separate multi-state outbreaks of salmonella associated with touching turtles smaller than four inches long.

In all, 133 individuals in 26 states have become sick. Thirty-eight of those individuals were so ill they were hospitalized, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Numbers are expected to rise.

Link to this web article online (English)

pet turtle



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