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No. 70, 11th March 2013

China: China backs tortoise in race to protect endangered species

SOURCE: China real time report;
DATE: 4th March 2013

China has long been a major consumer of wild animals, fueling the international trade in ivory, tiger parts and shark fin. But at this year's meeting of the 177 countries that have signed the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), China has cast itself in the unfamiliar role as a champion of conservation. Of the roughly 70 animal species that have been nominated to receive greater protection under the convention, 40 are on the list as a result of proposals submitted jointly by China and the U.S. And for the 16 th Conference of Parties China has mobilized its diplomatic energies to increase the protection for freshwater turtles and tortoises. China has made proposals to CITES in the past, even if never on such a scale. At the last three meetings China hasn't made any wildlife proposals. In 2002, like this year, it moved to protect several species of turtles and tortoises. Why are turtles and tortoises at such risk? Because an increasingly affluent China is eating more and more of them. According to the joint China-U.S. proposals, China's farms produce hundreds of millions of turtles for consumption, but that's proving not to be enough.. “Trade in Asian turtle species continues to follow a boom and bust pattern in which exploitation and trade shift from one species to another when a species becomes so depleted or rare that it is no longer commercially exploitable,” said the proposals. This year's bevy of CITES proposals might be an attempt by China to be a more responsible stakeholder in the international system, cooperating with other governments on an issue that's neither politically sensitive nor likely to generate much opposition. And clearly the frogs and tortoises of the world need someone to protect them from…well, China.

Link to this web article online (English)

2. New York, USA: Golden coin turtles sent home to Hong Kong

SOURCE: Turtle Conservancy;
DATE: 15th February 2013

Five Critically Endangered Golden Coin turtles (Cuora trifasciata) were repatriated to their native land of Hong Kong from the Turtle Conservacy's Conservancy's renowned captive-breeding facility in California. This event is the first repatriation of captive-bred turtles from another country back to their home country from the USA. “The return of these animals is part of our commitment to turtle conservation and completing the circle of captive breeding, returning and eventually releasing these animals in the wild,” says the Turtle Conservancy's President Eric Goode. This effort comes at a critical time; presently more than half of all turtle and tortoise species are threatened with extinction.

Link to this web article online


3. Bangkok city, Thailand: Rare turtle sets Japanese precedent

DATE: 8th March 2013

Japan is asking the world's governments to help protect the Ryukyu Black-breasted Leaf Turtle (Geoemyda japonica), a rare turtle found on only three small islands in the Okinawa group. The species has been proposed by the Japanese Government for listing in Appendix II of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) following the discovery of its availability in international trade in mainland China, Hong Kong and online. It is the first time Japan has submitted such a proposal to CITES, which is currently meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. At home, under Japanese law, the Ryukyu Black-breasted Leaf Turtle is designated a “natural monument” and cannot be captured, transferred or traded without permission from the Commissioner for Cultural Affairs.

Link to this web article online (English)


4.  Bangkok city, Thailand: Turtle ‘victory' at the 16th CITES Conference of Parties

DATE: 8th March 2013

Some of the world's most endangered turtles have been given additional protection at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Bangkok. The USA and China jointly put forward a proposal to restrict trade in 44 Asian turtle and tortoise species, as well as three North American pond turtle species. Government negotiators at the meeting have accepted the proposals, which have now been adopted under the CITES agreement. This has been viewed as a victory for the conservation of reptiles, and is a welcome step towards saving these threatened species. Proposals put forward by Vietnam to transfer two Vietnamese species, ‘rùa hộp trán vàng miền Bắc' (Cuora galbinifrons) and endemic ‘rùa Trung Bộ' (Mauremys annamensis) to Appendix I were rejected. However both species were included in Proposal 32 that will adopt a zero export quota on wild specimens for commercial purposes for the proposed species. This proposal was accepted and while Cuora galbinifrons and Mauremys annamensis are not uplisted to Appendix I, a zero export quota is still a good outcome for the Vietnamese species.

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5. Phuket, Thailand: Phuket villagers foraging for turtle eggs

SOURCE: Phuket Gazette online; – DATE: 4th March 2013

Follow up from Turtle Bulletin No. 59: The safety of leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) eggs in a protected nesting ground at the northern tip of Phuket is under investigation by the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation. The Phuket Gazette contacted the foundation after a reader reported seeing turtle tracks and people probing for eggs in the area between Maikhao Dream Villa Resort and Spa and Maikhao Beach Bungalows on 14th February. Foundation coordinator Kittipan Sabkhoon checked with security guards and staff at the hotels in the area and said that as of 28 th February, no suspicious activity had been reported. Nevertheless, he is sending guards and staff to check to see if there are any traces of egg-laying turtles or their nests on the beach.

Link to this web article online (English)

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