Asian Turtle Program
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No. 257, 21st October 2016

1. Vietnam: Confiscation of endangered box turtles in Hanoi
SOURCE: – DATE: 17th October 2016

On the 17th of October, 2016, Economic Police of Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi, Vietnam, in collaboration with the Hanoi Environmental Crime Prevention Police confiscated two critically endangered Indochinese box turtle (Cuora galbinifrons) being transported illegally by Nguyen Duc Dung residing in Phu Xuyen District, Hanoi. Following investigation at the object’s house, local authorities discovered five turtles of three endangered turtle species, including two individuals of Indochinese box turtle (Cuora galbinifrons), one individual of Bourret's box turtle (Cuora bourreti), and two keeled box turtles (Cuora mouhotii).

ATP NOTE: we have contacted the Hanoi authorities to try and have these endangered turtles rescued. Since Cuora galbinifrons became protected in 2013 under the new national law, Decree 160/2013 we have seen more of the species being confiscated.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

2. India: Cousins caught smuggling rare turtles, tortoises
SOURCE: – DATE: 15th October 2016

Two cousins claiming to be working for the Dubai police force have been caught by the Mumbai Airport customs (India) for attempting to smuggle out 199 tortoises of two species - the Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans) and the Black Pond Turtle (Geoclemys hamiltonii) - at the departure terminal on the night between Thursday (13th October 2016) and Friday (14th October 2016).

Marwan Ali Hassan and Sultan Ibrahim Ali Alfaqi were found carrying two Black Pond turtles and 197 Indian Star tortoises in four trolley bags. They were set to board a Fly Dubai flight. In a voluntary statement to the customs, the two said that they had purchased the reptiles from Crawford Market after being offered a discounted price for several. Hassan claimed to be running an animal farm in Dubai. Given that the number of reptiles constitutes a commercial quantity, the customs officials did not buy the animal farm claim.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

star tortoises confiscated


3. The USA: Eglin to welcome some 500 transplanted tortoises
SOURCE: – DATE: 14th October 2016

Gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) may be a threatened species in Florida (the USA), but the resilient reptiles have managed to gather their fair share of headlines in recent weeks.

In September officials at the DeFuniak Springs Airport discovered one of the burrowing creatures near the runway. To protect the tortoise and air traffic from possible encounters, the airport staff called in a crew from No’kuse Plantation in Bruce to relocate the reptile.

Now officials at Eglin Air Force Base are taking on an even larger project: creating habitats for about 500 tortoises that were discovered during a building project in Citrus County.

Link to this web article online (English)

4. Hong Kong Customs seizes suspected endangered species items
SOURCE: – DATE: 14th October 2016

Hong Kong Customs today (14th October) seized suspected endangered species items including 24 frogs, 46 turtles and 52 chameleons at Lok Ma Chau Control Point (Lok Ma Chau, Yuen Long, New Territories, Hong Kong). The total market value of the seized items is about $200,000 and two men were arrested.

Customs officers intercepted two outgoing lorries declared to be empty for Customs clearance at Lok Ma Chau Control Point during small hours this morning. During inspection, the unmanifested cargo was found inside the cargo compartment of the lorries.

Two male drivers aged 53 and 55 were arrested on suspicion of breaching the Import and Export Ordinance and the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance. The case is still under investigation.

Link to this web article online (English)

gunther- the tortoise

© Atlas Obscura user

5. The USA: Galápagos Tortoise Skeleton

Meet Gunther (a Galapagos tortoise). He’s been at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County for over a hundred years, and most visitors never even see him

At the far end of a long hall leading to the Museum’s Research Library, there is a perfectly preserved skeleton of a Galápagos tortoise, one of a pair in their herpetology collection.

The Galápagos tortoise is actually a collection of sub-species, each one unique to its particular island. This one, named for British zoologist Albert Günther, is native to Isabela (the largest of the archipelago), and today is threatened not only by predators that have been introduced to the island (pigs, dogs, rats, and cats), but by the threat of an eruption from the Sierra Negra volcano. Some 20 specimens have been placed in conservation and breeding programs, to try and stem the tide of extinction.

ATP NOTE: The specimen in the museum is most likely of the Chelonidis vinica species.

Link to this web article online (English)


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