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ATP WEEKLY TURTLE BULLETIN
No. 49, 7th October 2012
1. Vietnam: Experts voice concerns over Vietnam's legalization of wildlife trade
SOURCE: Người Lao Động Online; nld.com.vn - DATE: 2nd October 2012
In a recently issued circular (Circular No. 47; drafted by CITES), the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced that from the 11th of November they will legalize the commercial trade in 160 non-threatened wildlife species, a move that wildlife experts from national parks and conservation organizations are concerned about. The ministry says the move is a part of their efforts to bring the commercial trade of wildlife under government management and to facilitate wildlife export by farms but has received different reactions. Ms. Vu Thi Quyen (Education for Nature Vietnam) voiced her concerns about the fact that local authorities lack the knowledge to identify endangered wildlife and therefore might have a limited scope of action to prevent protected species from being caught by hunters; among the general public, hunters, traders and farmers are even less educated and can't differentiate threatened and protected species from non-threatened species .
Jack Tordoff, a wild bird expert from the International Conservation Center, said that exploitation and farming of wild animals for commercial purposes will cause problems in enforcing laws because “it is very difficult to differentiate caged and wild animals.” In agreement with Tordoff, Simon Mahood, another wildlife expert, has voiced his concerns that legalizing the hunting of deer, wild boar, and civet would mean legalizing hunting in a large area of forest, which will threaten the environment and even rare mammal such as the Sao La (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) or Giant mutijac (Megamuntiacus vuquangensis) .Link 2 to this web article online (English)
2. Binh Duong province, Vietnam: Crime defence club members refuse bribe from wildlife trader
SOURCE: Báo Công An Online; congan.com.vn - DATE: 3rd October 2012
While working on the Binh Duong highway in Lai Thieu Ward, Thuan An town, Binh Duong province, Vietnam, members of the crime defence volunteer group, a team organised by local People's Committee to maintain local security as with other countries neighbourhood watch schemes, discovered illegal wildlife. The shipment on a bus included turtles, pythons, cobras, monitors, and bamboo rats being transported from Dak Lak province to Ho Chi Minh City. The owner of the wildlife (an anonymous 42 year old from Dak Nong province) offered to hand over the wildlife, which was destined for dinner tables in restaurants, and a 10 million VND ($480) bribe to let her go. However, the crime defence club members refused and reported the case to the authorities.Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)
3. Nghe An province, Vietnam: Market watch officials caught in the act of receiving a bribe
SOURCE: Dân Trí Online; dantri.com.vn - DATE: 4th October 2012
On the 4th of October, police of central Nghe An Province seized four local market-watch officials for allegedly taking a bribe amounting to 35 million VND ($1,680) from a poacher. The poacher was looking to have the officials drop charges against him for illegally transporting civet legs as well as dead and live hard-shell and soft-shell turtles. The turtles included 23 listed in Group IIB of Decree 32/2006/ND-CP (9 kg of big-headed turtles Platysternon megacephalum and 20 kg of yellow-headed temple turtles Heosemys annandalii). The 4 officers were arrested and the case is under further investigation.
Later, the confiscated turtles were transferred to the Pu Mat National Park to be released while the (decaying) civet legs and dead turtles were destroyed.Link 3 to this web article online (Vietnamese)
4. Dong Thap province, Vietnam: Trade of wildlife in spite of ban
SOURCE: Quân đội Nhân dân Online; qdnd.vn - DATE: 5th October 2012
Appeal of a reporter from Thanh Binh district, Dong Thap province: Although the Vietnamese government has banned the trade of wildlife many species of snakes, turtles, storks and other birds are still publicly sold in An Long and Tram Chim markets, Tam Nong district, Dong Thap province. These animals have been collected by professional hunters and are sold for 150,000 VND (approx. $7) per kg for live snakes, 300,000 VND (approx. $14) per kg for turtles, and 150,000 to 200,000 VND (approx. $7 to $9) per kg for storks.
The reporter urged the appropriate authorities to investigate the case. A photo attached to this article shows three Malayan box turtles (Cuora amboinensis) kept in a glass tank with many snakes. The Malayan box turtle is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List and in Vietnam's red book (2007).Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)
5. Dong Thap province, Vietnam: 3 wildlife trade cases caught
SOURCE: VietnamPlus; vietnamplus.vn - DATE: 6th October 2012
The Forest Protection Department (FPD) and policemen in Tam Nong and Tan Hong districts, Dong Thap province uncovered 3 wildlife trade cases. The wildlife was confiscated in DT 843 Street, Tram Chim town (Tam Nong district) and Tam Nong market and included 153 turtles (local name: rua vang which could mean either Malayan snail-eating turtle (Malayemys subtrijuga) or Elongated tortoise (Indotestudo elongata) as both share the local name.
ATP NOTE: based on the location its most likely to be Malayemys subtrijuga. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) , Red Turtle Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica) and some other bird species; 189 passerines (song birds) and 40 Asian Openbill Storks (Anastomus oscitans). The wildlife and hunters found in DT 843 Street were arrested and transferred to the FPD while there was no further information on the second case and the traders in the third case escaped.Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)
6. Gilgit-Baltistan province, Pakistan: 34 threatened turtles seized near Pakistan – China border
SOURCE: The Express Tribune Online Newspaper; tribune.com.pk - DATE: 7th October 2012
On the 3rd of October 2012 the Gilgit-Baltistan forest department in Gilgit, Pakistan seized 34 endangered turtles being smuggled into China. Wildlife officer Wilayat Noor reported that the turtles were seized alive from the luggage of Chuch Bin, a Chinese national, at a check post in the dry port Sost town near the Pakistan-China border. The consignment consisted of three turtle species; 7 specimens of the near threatened Brown roofed turtle (Pangshura smithii), 3 vulnerable Indian flap-shell turtle (Lissemys punctata andersonii) and 24 Indian softshell turtle (Nilssonia gangetica) listed as ‘least concern' by the IUCN. Four of the Indian softshell turtles died during transportation as Bin was hiding them in cardboard boxes and bags. Rehmat Ali, a senior conservationist from the WWF Gilgit office said the man was taken into custody and presented before the court of a civil judge which charged the Chinese national and fined him Rs 2,000 (approx. $21) under the Wildlife Act of 1975. Investigation revealed that the accused spent nearly three months in Rawalpindi, picking up the turtles from various areas of the Pothohar region, including the Kallar Kahar Lake. Divisional Forest Officer Aftab Mehmood said the biggest task at hand will be the immediate rehabilitation of the confiscated turtles and that the department is currently making arrangements for releasing the animals.
Even if the turtle species in this consignment are not critically endangered, populations in Pakistan are increasingly threatened as their skin and meat is in high demand in China. According to the article, one turtle is sold for around Rs 150,000 (approx. $1574).
ATP NOTE: this price would seem excessively high for the species involved.
Gilgit-Baltistan province, Pakistan: 30 freshwater turtles released in Korung River
SOURCE: Daily Times Online; dailytimes.com.pk - DATE: 9th October 2012
The Gilgit-Baltistan Forest (GBF), Wildlife and Parks Department, the Climate Change Ministry and the Worldwide Fund (WWF) on Monday jointly released 30 freshwater turtles in Korung River , Gilgit-Baltistan province, Pakistan. The consignment of 34 turtles had been confiscated from Gilgit-Baltistan's Sust border area by the GBF and Wildlife and Parks Department, after being illegally captured and transported from Pakistan and on their way to China on the 3rd of October 2012. Such trade in wildlife, especially in freshwater turtles, has peaked during the last eight years, resulting in the killing of several hundreds and thousands of these species in order to feed Chinese restaurants and meet the demand for traditional Chinese medicines.Link to this web article online (English)