Asian Turtle Program
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No. 45, 9th September 2012


1. Quang Nam province, Vietnam. Hoi An authorities release 10 turtles to the wild

SOURCE: - DATE: 3rd September 2012

The authorities in Quang Nam Province's Hoi An Town have released 10 critically endangered Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) to their natural habitat in the Marine Conservation Park on the Cham Islands which are located 16 kilometres from the coast and 19 kilometres to the east of ancient Hoi An town. Before returning the animals to the wild, authorities named them after ten isles of the Cham Islands and fixed a nametag to each of the turtles. The largest turtle weighed 55kg while the smallest animal weighed just 5kg. A company in Ho Chi Minh City had bought the turtles from poachers but handed them over to the town authorities for release.

ATP note: The web articles to which you can find a link below reported that the turtles released were Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata). However, from the photos ATP staff was able to identify the turtles as Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas).

Link to this web article online (English)

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


2.  Last stand of the Madagascan spider tortoise

SOURCE: - DATE: 3rd September 2012

The spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides)- one of the rarest tortoises in the world - is the equivalent of a microwave meal for the Mikea, a hardy Madagascan forest tribe. Due to the Mikea and a slew of other threats, the species is hurtling towards extinction in a matter of a few decades, less than a single tortoise's lifespan. The current population density of this species in Madagascar is 2 individuals per hectare.

Fortunately, recent fieldwork suggests a glimmer hope after biologists from the Open University, UK, the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership and UK-based marine conservation NGO Blue Ventures, have identified a new population of spider tortoises where densities are the highest ever recorded for the species - almost 10 times the average for the species. Using conservation funds from the US-based Turtle Survival Alliance and Turtle Conservation Fund, surveyors were asked to record the sex, size and age of all tortoises found, and mark their shells with pink nail polish.

The village where scientists found the high density population is such a Shangri-La for the species because the villagers believe that eating these turtles will bring death or the least, some kind of slap on the wrist by their ancestors. The Mikea frequently hunt for turtles in the area, even though the president of the village has warned them that they will be "beaten up" if they are found. However, it will be a challenge for this tribe not to cash in on the rare tortoises because eating them could be the difference between life and death for this impoverished people.

Link to this web article online (English)


3. Britain. Vietnamese box turtles bred successfully at Bristol Zoo

SOURCE: - DATE: 5th September 2012

A baby Vietnamese box turtle (Cuora bourreti), which is one of the world's rarest turtles and edemic to central Vietnam, was hatched at Bristol Zoo in July and is now roughly 28g in weight and measures around 5cm (2in) in length. An adult box turtle weighs around 1kg, measures around 20cm long and can live for up to 50 years. The youngster, called Vernon, is being kept in a climate-controlled boggy tank (warm, humid and quiet with soil and leaves for burrowing) and hand fed chopped worms by keepers. Mr. Tim Skelton, reptile curator, who hopes to learn a lot from the youngster to improve the chance of success in the future. The current threat facing this species is hunting for their meat, medicinal uses or as pets.

The Bristol Zoo is the second European zoo (after a zoo in Germany) to successfully breed this species.

Link to this web article online (English)


4. India. Smugglers of turtles hoped for big profits

SOURCE: - DATE: 6th September 2012

Three men detained at the Mumbai city airport last week for trying to smuggle wildlife (10 turtles, 6 Persian cats, 3 tarantulas, 11 eggs of unknown bird species, pigeons and fish food) were hoping to cash in on the high demand their cargo has in Mumbai, India. Some of the turtles, that one of the men tried to smuggle in his underwear, were Indian star tortoises (Geochelone elegans), which are highly sought after as pets. These turtles could be sold for anything from Rs25,000 to Rs50,000 (~$463 to $926) per pair,” a customs official said. Customs officials discovered that two of the arrested men had travelled to Bangkok three times this year where well known wildlife markets have many endangered animals for sale. They are investigating to determine if the previous trips were for a similar purpose.

Link to this web article online (English)



5.  Indonesia and Japan work together on sea turtle conservation

SOURCE: - DATE: 8th September 2012

The population of Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) in Indonesia has declined by 80% partly due to excessive exports of their carapaces to Japan, which began in the 1950s. Conditions deteriorated with illegal turtle egg gathering in the 1970s. Facing sharp criticisms from the global community, Japan banned the importation of carapace from Indonesia, but the Japanese government did nothing to actually stop the activity. In order to solve the problem, ELNA, a Kanagawa-based non-profit organization established in 1999, to conserve marine life and habitats in the Asian region is now , focuses on conservation of sea turtles and whales in Japan and Indonesia. Jointly working with ELNA since 1997, the Indonesia Sea Turtles Foundation (YPLI) has protected 10,770 nesting sites of Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) and 7,008 nesting sites of Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in conservation areas on five islands: Segama Besar (East Lampung), Pesemut (East Belitung), Momperang (East Belitung), Kimar (Belitung), and Penambun (West Kalimantan).

Link to this web article online (English)



6. Khanh Hoa province, Vietnam. Green sea turtle released to the sea

SOURCE: - DATE 9th September 2012

Ms. Nguyen Thi Hoa, a 55 year old woman from Cam Ranh (Khanh Hoa province) is known in her city to go out of her way to save endangered sea turtles. On the 8 th of September, she once again rescued a Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and released back to the ocean near Cam Ranh bay. This is the fourth sea turtle that she has rescued. The other 3 turtles that were rescued by her and released earlier this year in July and August cost her 3.6 million VND ($173). Ms. Hoa's neighbours reported that she usually buys the turtles from fishermen in order to release them back to the ocean.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

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