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No. 71, 18th March 2013

Hanoi, Vietnam: The Hoan Kiem turtle should not be declared as a national monument

SOURCE: Giáo dục Việt Nam,
DATE: 12th March 2013

Follow up to Turtle Bulletin No.65

Many strong arguments from cultural researchers have been raised against the proposal recommending that Hanoi authorities declare the Hoan Kiem turtle and two other specimens as national heritage. Professor Tran Lam Bien explained that the respect and positive attitude towards the turtle represent the personal opinion of a specific group of Vietnamese people. Furthermore, the professor stressed that the Hoan Kiem turtle is merely of special importance for the scientific community but has little cultural value. He believes that if something should be declared natural heritage it should have more symbolic value. A member of the National Heritage Council said that the turtle should be included in the Red List of threatened species instead of listing it as national heritage (ATP NOTE: Rafetus swinhoei in already listed as critically endangered on the Vietnam red list, 2007).
Also, there is no evidence to prove that the specimens in Hanoi stem from the Le Loi legend. Responding to this criticism, Professor Ha Dinh Duc said that the Hoan Kiem turtle and the other specimens deserve to become part of Vietnam's national heritage because of their uniqueness and their spiritual value.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)



2. Bangkok, Thailand: Freshwater turtles and a tortoise receive improved trade protection measures under UN agreement

SOURCE: TRAFFIC, – DATE: 11th March 2013

Within the framework of the CITES meeting which is currently taking place in Bangkok, governments of participated nations voted last week to enhance protection for more than 30 freshwater turtles and a tortoise from overharvesting for the international pet and meat trades. Eleven proposals were submitted, several of which came from Asian countries and most proposals were accepted by delegates. The Burmese Star Tortoise (Geochelone platynota) was successfully moved from Appendix II to Appendix I. Meanwhile, the rare Roti Island Snake-necked Turtle (Chelodina mccordi) was rejected to be move from Appendix II to Appendix I since Indonesia, the range State, guaranteed to address the threats through a conservation programme.

Link to this web article online (English)

© Mark Auliya - TRAFFIC

3. New York, USA: ‘Lonesome George' tortoise goes to New York for embalming

SOURCE: Global Post,
DATE: 12th March 2013

On 11th March, Lonesome George, a rare Pinta Island giant tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdoni), who died on 24th June, 2012 at an estimated 100 years of age, traveled to New York for taxidermy work at the American Museum of Natural History. The embalming procedure is supposed to take eight or nine months to complete. Lonesome George will then be returned to his home at the Galapagos Islands and permanently displayed at a newly-built visitor center in Puerto Ayora where he was first discovered in 1971. Dr. Linda Cayot, Galapagos Conservancy's Science Advisor who worked with Lonesome George for more than a decade said, “George's story has played an important role in the development of the next steps in tortoise conservation throughout the archipelago. We look forward to a new and important chapter in biodiversity protection.”

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)


4. Thailand: Tortoise smugglers busted

SOURCE: Bangkok Post,
DATE: 16th March 2013

On 15th March, a Malagasy woman and a Thai man were arrested at the customs checkpoint of Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok for allegedly smuggling 369 live tortoises. Customs officers found 75 live Angonoka tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora) inside the woman's luggage and 294 Indian Star tortoises (Geochelone elegans) in another suitcase that had been left on a luggage carousel. Both suspects denied that the suitcases belonged to them. The suspects were kept for further investigation, and the tortoises will be transferred to a breeding station in Chon Buri province, said Paisarn Cheunjit, director of the Investigation and Suppression Bureau (ISB) of the Customs Department.

Link to this web article online (English)

5. Thua Thien Hue province, Vietnam: The legend of a giant turtle in Huong river

SOURCE: Lao Động Online, – DATE: 16th March 2013

For years now, local people and tourists have been telling the story of a giant turtle that is believed to inhabit a branch of Huong river. The turtle was supposedly often seen in a section of river opposite the Hon Chen Temple in Ngoc Ho village (Hue province). Local people believe that the turtle is sacred with significant events happening in the area following sightings of the turtle. According to the witnesses, the turtle is the size of a tractor with a black shell and is believed to weigh about 10 tons. However, the turtle has not been spotted recently. A fisherman on Huong river said that he has not seen the turtle for 8 years. Since the number of boats transporting goods on the river has increased, the turtle might have disappeared.
ATP NOTE: Although the size is extreme for any known species of turtle it is possible that Pelochelys cantorii still survive in the Huong River.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


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