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No. 72, 25th March 2013

Quang Ninh province, Vietnam: Two rare sea turtles caught and released

SOURCE: Công an Nhân dân,
DATE: 23rd March 2013

On the 19th of March, Pham Van Thai, a local fisherman accidentally caught a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) which was trapped in his fishing net in Co To district waters. Thai was offered a price of 300 million VND (~$14,337) for the 100kg turtle but he refused to sell it and reported the case to the local authority instead. He also informed them that he intended to release the animals back to the sea as the turtle was in good health. A day later, on 20th March, Le Van Cu, a resident in Ha Long city, caught a 5-kg-Hawkbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) near Quan Lan Island, Van Don district. The local government cooperated with the Bai Tu Long Bay Conservation center to release the turtle back to the sea.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)



2. Galapagos: Galapagos tortoises - Slow and steady migrators

SOURCE: National Geographic,
DATE: 12 March 2013

A recent tracking study on 18 giant Galapagos tortoises (Chelonoidis nigra) conducted by Stephen Blake, a researcher at Max Planck Institute in Germany, and his colleagues revealed that these terrestrial animals do migrate. The scientists recorded the average distance that an adult tortoise could travel is 650 to 1,000 feet (200 to 300 meters) per day. The tortoises' journey begins in the humid highlands of Santa Cruz Island, where they load up on grass and perennial plants. Once the rainy season starts in December, they migrate to the lowlands, where herbs and shrubs thrive and when the rains stop and the vegetation dries up, they return to the highlands.However, according to Blake, the some of the adult females and all tortoises under 20 years of age choose to stay in the lowlands, probably females and juvenile tortoises, which have smaller bodies, may be less equipped to tolerate the colder temperatures of the highlands and rely on the lowland's highly nutritious broad-leaf vegetation during their growing phase. By understanding giant tortoise habitat requirements and migration patterns, scientists can better protect the vulnerable reptile. They can begin mapping conservation threats such as the growth of invasive plant species, the building of roads, and the effects of rapidly increasing tourism to the islands.

Link to this web article online (English)

© Christian Ziegler

Indonesia: Leatherback turtle nest numbers way down

DATE: 19th March 2013

The western Pacific leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), one of the world's largest reptiles, could go extinct within 20 years if more isn't done to protect its habitat and nesting sites, a team of international experts concluded. The worldwide population of the endangered Pacific leatherback has declined more than 90 percent since the 1980s because of commercial fishing, egg poaching, destruction of nesting habitat, degradation of foraging habitat and changing ocean conditions. Marine biologists had believed the global population had stabilized, but the new study, published in the scientific journal Ecosphere, shows that turtle eggs are disappearing fast in one of its last bastions, the beaches of Indonesia. According to a new study, the number of nests in Indonesia where 500 turtles come to lay eggs each year dropped 78.3 percent since 1984. After emerging, the Pacific leatherback hatchlings eventually swim 9650km across the Pacific Ocean to California, where they feed on jellyfish off San Francisco, Monterey and Bodega bays in the summer and fall.The study indicates that the number of turtles that don't reach their final destination is steadily increasing. Turtle advocates say the giant sea creatures are vulnerable to longline fishing and drift nets dragged by oceangoing vessels, which often mistakenly hook and entangle marine mammals and turtles."Allowing more sea turtles to be entangled by California's swordfish fleet in protected sea turtle habitat would be a tragedy for this vulnerable sea turtle", said Teri Shore, the program director at Turtle Island Restoration Network.

Link to this web article online (English)


Bangkok, Thailand: Durrell travel to Thailand to help with tortoise heist

SOURCE: Channel Online,
DATE: 21st March 2013

Thai authorities arrested a woman and a man for smuggling 54 critically endangered ploughshare tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora) which were smuggled out of Madagascar and hidden in a bag on a luggage carousel at Bangkok Airport. Ploughshares are highly prized as pets, yet there could be fewer than 400 tortoises left in the wild. Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust- an international charity working towards saving species from extinction – is now offering to send a team to Thailand to help review the health of the animals and provide husbandry support to ensure their welfare in the hope that the animals can be repatriated to Madagascar as soon as possible where they can be integrated into a secure captive breeding programme that continues to ensure the future of the species.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 3 to this web article online (English)

Link 4 to this web article online (English)

© Blue Ocean Whale Watch/SeaTurtl


5. Quang Tri province, Vietnam: Wildlife released

SOURCE: An ninh Thủ đô, – DATE: 28th February 2013

On the 28th of February, the Forest Protection Department (FPD) and Police Department of Quang Tri province released confiscated wildlife into the forest in Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve (Huong Hoa district) including 10 king cobras (Ophiophagus hannah), 1 cobra (Naja genus), 1 reticulated python (Python reticulatus), 2 clouded monitor lizards (Varanus nebulosus) , 17 Java Sunda pangolins (Manis javanica) and 15 Asiatic softshell turtles (Amyda cartilaginea). The management of Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve will implement a monitoring plan now to prevent local people from hunting the released animals.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


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