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No. 82, 31st May 2013

1. New York – WCS, Bronx Zoo, USA: Slow and Steady, Turtles Gain Ground

SOURCE: – DATE: 23rd May 2013

On World Turtle Day, the 23rd of May, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced progress in its effort to restore some of the world's most endangered turtles, an effort that combines the creation of assurance colonies at its zoos with in-country field conservation work. The announcement comes on World Turtle Day – a global celebration to bring attention to the plight of turtles and tortoises from around the planet. Last year, WCS unveiled a strategy to save the 25 most endangered turtles through conservation work at its Zoos and Aquarium, Zoological Health Program, and Global Conservation Programs. At the Bronx Zoo and Prospect Park Zoo, more than a dozen turtle and tortoise species from around the world are being raised in “assurance colonies” to ensure they do not go extinct.

•  Five Chinese yellow-headed box turtles (Cuora aurocapitata) were recently hatched at the Bronx Zoo. Classified as critically endangered, fewer than 150 remain in the wild.

•  The Bronx Zoo currently maintains an assurance colony of seven Roti Island snake-necked turtles (Chelodina mccordi), a species that was discovered in 1994 and subsequently hunted to near-extinction. Only a few scattered individuals remain in the wild.

•  The Bronx Zoo currently maintains a population of eight Sulawesi forest turtles (Leucocephalon yuwonoi), a species only found on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. It was described as a new turtle species in 1995. In the late 90's, two to three thousand turtles per year were collected by traffickers, with the result that by 1999, the population had collapsed. Fewer than 100 of the animals removed from the wild remain alive today. More than half of the world's approximately 330 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises are threatened with extinction due to illegal trade and habitat loss. Most of the world's turtle trade is driven by demand from China, specifically for human consumption, traditional medicines, and the pet trade.

Link to this web article online

Cuora trifasciata © Julie Larsen Maher/WCS

Cuora aurocapitata © Gerald Kuchling

Chelodina mccordi ©
R. Andrew Odum, Toledo Zoological Society

Leucocephalon yuwonoi © Turtle Survival Alliance

2. Ontario, Canada: Turtle hit by car airlifted 400 km for medical care

SOURCE: CBC news; – DATE: 25th May 2013

A snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) injured by a car in Ontario has been airlifted more than 400 kilometres to an animal hospital, and is now on a slow road to recovery. The turtle was hit by the car in Sarnia in southwestern Ontario, Canada, and needed emergency medical treatment. Pilot Rick Woodall is a volunteer with Pilots N Paws, a national animal rescue group. Normally, he helps to relocate animals that would otherwise be euthanized — mainly dogs and cats — to new homes. On the 11th of May, he received word about the turtle from Heaven's Wildlife Rescue, near Sarnia, which couldn't help the severely injured animal and decided to fly the turtle 400km to the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre in Peterborough. Veterinarians at the trauma centre said “The turtle has a good prognosis, despite all his injuries. Spring is an extremely dangerous time of year for turtles. Many are injured while trying to cross busy roads to lay eggs near water. The majority of them don't make it.” It was the first time a turtle had ever been flown to the turtle trauma centre and the entire effort was done on a volunteer basis, including the treatment in Peterborough.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online

© Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre

Maha Sarakham, Thailand: Maha Sarakham University finds oldest Asian box turtle fossil in the world

DATE: 30th May 2013

Maha Sarakham University has found the oldest Asian box turtle (genus Cuora) fossil in the world. The turtle is believed to be of the specimen that existed in Thailand 12 million years ago. The discovery was made at a coal mine in Chiang Muan district, Phayao province by Ms.Wilailuck Naksri, a Paleontology Ph.D student at the faculty of Science, Maha Sarakham University who studies turtle fossils in Phayao province. She said the discovery helped reveal the evolution and reproduction secrets of the Asian box turtles in Asia. These turtles are found only in Asia and are believed to have originated in Thailand 12 million years ago in the mid Miocene period. This newly found turtle fossil will be named Cuora Chiangmuanensis. It is the fossil of the oldest fresh water turtle that has ever been found, which belongs to the same family as the Asian box turtle.

Link to this web article online (English)


World Turtle Day: How people can help in turtle protection

DATE: 23rd May 2013

According to the American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), turtles and tortoises are threatened by the exotic food trade, habitat destruction, global warming and the pet trade. There are a number of ways you can help endangered and threatened turtles:

- Don't buy turtles from pet stores, instead, look into adopting a turtle from a local turtle rescue centre.
- Writing letters to legislators asking them to preserve habitats and reporting illegal sales of turtles to your local animal control shelter.
- If you encounter a turtle, release it into the wild if they are native to the area. If not, soak them in tepid water and place them in a box with a lid, contact any turtle organization so that they can find it a new home.
- Regarding sea turtles, do not leave trash on the beach and keep an eye out of them if you boat near where they live. Follow lighting restrictions if you are near nesting beaches, in order not to disorient hatchlings.

Link to this web article online (English)

© National News Bureau of Thailand, Public Relations Department

© Getty Images

5. Nghe An, Vietnam: 7kg of turtles seized

SOURCE: HQ Online; – DATE: 31st May 2013

Customs officers at the Nam Can international border gate stopped a Laos coach numbered UN-0189 on one of their patrols and discovered 15 big-headed turtles (Platysternon megacephalum, a species full protected under Vietnamese national wildlife protection law, Decree 32/2006/ND-CP and CITES appendix I ), weighing 7 kilograms, being illegally transported. The turtles were transported in boxes and found in the trunk of the coach. None of the passengers admitted the crime. The turtles were confiscated and transferred to the Forest Protection Department (FPD) of Ky Son district.

Link to this web article online

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