Asian Turtle Program
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No. 242, 8th July 2016

1. Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam: rescue two turtles from being slaughtered.
SOURCE: – DATE: 6th July 2016

On the 6th of July 2016, Mr. Le Xuan Lam, official from Wildlife At Risk (WAR) said that the organization just received two sea turtles handed over by Sub-department of Quality Management and Fishery Resources Protection under Ho Chi Minh Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The sea turtles were transferred to Hon Mun Sea Nature Reserve to release back to the sea. They were 9.5 kg in weight. The sea turtles were said to have been rescued from a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh city.

ATP NOTE: As seen from the pictures, the turtles appear to be Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata).

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

save two turtles

© Xuan Lam

2. The USA: Tequesta man charged with stealing 107 sea turtle eggs in Jupiter
SOURCE: – DATE: 4th July 2016

A Tequesta man is accused of taking and possessing loggerhead sea turtle eggs, a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Last week, the agency received information from FWC biologists on a possible suspect stealing sea turtle eggs from a beach behind a home on Jupiter Island (Florida, the USA). Therefore, Officers increased patrols in the area to monitor for illegal activity. The suspect, Glenn Shaw, 49, was observed Friday evening taking eggs from a female loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) as she was laying them.

Shaw was found to be in possession of 107 eggs in total. He was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail. 15 of the eggs were kept as evidence and for DNA testing, and FWC biologists re-buried the remaining 92 eggs.

Link to this web article online (English)

green sea turtle

© K. Jones

3. Australia: Turtle herpes outbreak hints at Great Barrier Reef contamination
SOURCE: - DATE: 5th July 2016

It’s a turtle tragedy. Tumours are crippling an increasing number of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, with pollution being investigated as the prime culprit.

The animals have a turtle-specific herpesvirus that causes fibropapillomatosis – a condition in which disfiguring tumours grow on the eyes, flippers, tail, shell or internal organs.

The unpublished results of surveys by the team of Karina Jones from James Cook University in Townsville, Australia this year show that herpesvirus is most prevalent within a narrow stretch of Cockle Bay at Magnetic Island, a popular tourist destination in the middle of the reef. Roughly half the turtles in this hotspot have fibropapillomatosis, compared with less than 10 per cent of turtles sampled across the rest of Cockle Bay. The cause remains unclear, but environmental contaminants are at the top of the suspect list.

Link to this web article online (English)

4. Turtle power: How hatching together avoids capture
SOURCE: – DATE: 5th July 2016

New research has found that green turtles hatching en masse from their nests 'swamp' predators, allowing more individuals to reach the safety of the sea.

The study, by the Universidade Federal de Alagoas in Brazil and the University of Bristol in the UK, was carried out on a pristine and remote island near Brazil where there are 3,600 green turtle nests (Chelonia mydas) per year and very little human disturbance. Researchers observed 33 of these nests every half an hour throughout the night to discover how simultaneously emerging from individual nests helps baby turtles to survival.

Findings, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on the 6th of July, show that mass departures of green turtle hatchlings saturates the foraging ability of their main predator - yellow crab (Johngarthia lagostoma), particularly as it spends a long time handling each prey item. Individuals emerging from their nests in bigger groups are therefore significantly more likely to survive.

Link to this web article online (English)

Yellow crab

© R. Santos

Hilazon Tachtit Cave

© N. Hilger

5. Israel: haman woman's grave from 10,000 BC discovered in Galilee
Unique animal offerings were found in the grave, highlighting the special status of the deceased.
SOURCE: - DATE: 5th July 2016

In Hilazon Tachtit Cave in northern Israel, archaeologists have stumbled upon the grave of an old woman - possibly a shaman - dating back to the 'Natufian era', some 12,000 BP. The site is one of the rare cemeteries from the time, and provides strong evidence for ancient communities' engagement in ritual practice.

The way the grave is constructed suggests great care was taken to prepare the final resting place of the deceased. Close to the body, a large number of offerings were excavated including one complete and one anterior half of a stone marten skull, the tail of an aurochs, the wing tip of a golden eagle and etc. More impressive, the remains of 86 tortoises were found in the grave.

The burial site has also yielded a number of more general indications about ritualistic practice in these ancient times. One is that eating was a central moment of funerary rituals.

Link to this web article online (English)

6. Myanmar: Myanmar’s Illegal Wildlife Supermarket
SOURCE: – DATE: 6th July 2016

Mong La, a boomtown on the border between Myanmar and China, is notorious for a number of reasons from rampant prostitution to a booming gambling industry. But the town’s best-known trade is in illegally purchased wildlife, a business that has turned the former village into an international market for endangered animals. 

In Mong La no effort is made to hide illegal transactions. On the contrary, illegal wildlife is advertised and widely available. The town’s lack of law enforcement, its proximity to China and Beijing’s inability - or unwillingness - to seal the border have created an ideal market for wildlife buyers.

Link to this web article online (English)

wildlife trade in Myanmar


7. Japan: Suppon turtle added to international endangered list
SOURCE: - DATE: 7th July 2016

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources on Tuesday (5th July 2016) updated its Red List of Threatened Species to add the Chinese softshell turtle, known in Japan as suppon.

The turtle, a delicacy in Asia, was added in the category of “vulnerable,” the third-highest among the IUCN’s five categories reflecting the degree of extinction risk.

The turtle, whose scientific name is Pelodiscus sinensis, has come under threat of extinction in the wild due to increasing riverbank protection work and overhunting. According to the Japan Committee for the IUCN, several million softshell turtles are being farmed in Asia. But their number in the wild is believed to have decreased substantially.

Link to this web article online (English)



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