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ATP WEEKLY TURTLE BULLETIN

No. 88, 12th July 2013



1. Philippines: Philippines finds huge hoard of endangered species

SOURCE: channelnewsasia.com – DATE: 5th July, 2013

Five dead crocodiles, 14 critically endangered turtles and a cache of other rare species have been found in the home of a suspected wildlife trader in one of the Philippines' biggest slums. The juvenile saltwater crocodiles, as well as 90 birds, were intentionally killed to avoid detection by authorities before police and environment officials raided the place on Wednesday. Also, the authorities found 14 live Philippine forest (Heosemys leytensis) and pond turtles (Siebenrockiella leytensis) at the house in Manila's Tondo slum district.
The turtle species are considered "critically endangered" according to the global "red list of threatened species" compiled by the Swiss-based International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). All the animals, which also included 78 Palawan hill mynahs and 12 blue-napped parrots, are protected by Philippine law, which prohibits their trade or capture. Last month, the Philippines crushed five tons of smuggled elephant tusks, making it the first country in Asia to destroy its ivory stockpiles in support of global efforts to stamp out the illegal wildlife trade.

Link to this web article online (English)


© AFP



2. Japan: The Origin of the Turtle Shell: Mystery Solved

SOURCE: sciencedaily.com – DATE: 9th July, 2013

By observing the development of different animal species and confirming their results with fossil analysis and genomic data, researchers from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (Japan) show that the shell on the turtle's back derives only from its ancestors' ribcage and not from a combination of internal and external bone structures as is often thought.   To investigate whether the turtle carapace evolved with any contribution from its ancestors' exoskeleton, Dr. Tatsuya Hirasawa and his team carefully observed developing embryos of Chinese soft-shell turtles (Pelodiscus sinensis), chickens and alligators. The researchers found that the major part of the turtle's carapace is made from hypertrophied ribs and vertebrae and therefore derives solely from endoskeletal tissue. This finding was confirmed by the observation of fossils of the ancient turtle Odontochelys and the ancient reptile Sinosaurosphargi, that both exhibit shells of endoskeletal origin. Odontochelys has a rigid shell instead of a flexible ribcage. And Sinosaurosphargis possesses an endoskeletal shell similar to the turtle's under, and separate from, a layer of exoskeletal bones. Taken together these results show that the turtle carapace has evolved independently from the exoskeleton. This scenario is also consistent with the recent phylogenetic analyses based on genomic data that have placed turtles in the same group as birds, crocodiles and marine reptiles like Sinosaurophargis, contradicting recent studies based solely on fossil record.

Link to this web article online (English)



© RIKEN


3. Taiwan: Conference turns spotlight on Taiwan's turtles

SOURCE: taiwantoday.tw – DATE: 2nd July, 2013

On the 2nd of July Taipei Zoo hosted the Turtle Conservation in Action Conference 2013, a major international event focusing on global efforts to protect endangered species. “Conservation of turtle species in Asia has long been a major global issue,” said Liou Ming-lone, commissioner of the Taipei Feitsui Reservoir Administration. “The high economic value and easy transport of wild turtles means they are in unprecedented danger throughout South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia, including Taiwan.
This is especially true of the yellow-margined box (Cuora flavomarginata) and Asian yellow pond turtles (Mauremys mutica) . The International Union for Conservation of Nature has placed them on its red list of endangered species, and they are also covered by the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.” Conservation measures taken by the TFRA over the past 20 years have yielded concrete results. Since 1996, more than 400 different individuals of the two endangered species had been recorded in the reservoir area, making them the island's largest and stable population. TFRA has already requested the Forestry Bureau under the Council of Agriculture to upgrade the protection status of the reservoir's catchment area, so as to provide the wild species with an undisturbed habitat.

Link to this web article online (English)



© TFRA


 
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