Asian Turtle Program
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No. 89, 19th July 2013

1. Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam: Softshell turtles, crocodiles sold on sidewalks

DATE: 18th July, 2013

Crocodile meat from Long An, crabs from Ca Mau, and softshell turtles are being sold on the streets of several districts in Ho Chi Minh City. These animals are sold for surprisingly low prices, about half of the usual market price, because the street vendors do not have to hire shops nor pay intermediaries. Selling the wildlife on the street catches the attention of a lot of passersby who stop to buy these animals. Even restaurants are now buying their crocodile meat from the street vendors. Buyers have one concern though: the meat is usually packed in boxes which makes the buyers worry about food safety.
Recently, softshell turtles have been added to the product range of these street vendors. The
re are at least 3 vendors selling softshell turtles along Xa Lo Ha Noi (from Binh Thanh District to District 9). The vendors are unsure about the origin of these turtles, but they guarantee that the turtles were bred on farms in the western provinces. Softshell turtles were formerly considered “rare”, but now farms are capable of producing a great number each month, ready to meet daily customer needs. This specialty is popular among men as they usually eat turtle meat while drinking beer. Softshell turtles are sold for 150.000 VND ($7)/animal weighing 600-700 grams. On average, each vendor sells 20-30 turtles a day. Phan Hoang Kiem, Director of HCMC Market Control Department, said: “It's the cooperation of various departments or even Forest Protection Departments to examine the origin and safety of these products.” Street vendors have been deterred many times but they keep selling products intentionally. When authorities show up they flee in a hast.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© Hồng Châu

2. China: Jamming Wildlife Trafficking

SOURCE: – DATE: 15th July, 2013

Wildlife is the world's fourth most smuggled item, after drugs, counterfeit goods and human beings. The global illegal trade of plants and animals, as well as their parts and derivatives, are estimated to be worth $7.8 billion to $10 billion per year. China is a major destination country for ivory, rhino horns, pangolin scales, and tiger and leopard products. In China, ivory has traditionally been carved to produce exquisite art pieces. Rhino horns, pangolin scales and tiger bones are prized ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine. Leopard furs are treasured for their beautiful patterns. China is boosting efforts against wildlife trafficking, enforcing new laws and regulations, implementing a labeling system for ivory products and setting up a national coordination group. To regulate trade in wildlife, China joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1981. The convention aims to prevent international trade from threatening the survival of wild flora and fauna. Today, it remains one of the world's most powerful tools for this purpose. During the more than 30 years since joining the convention, China has actively fulfilled its responsibilities and participated in international cooperation, and played an important role in wildlife protection and trade regulation. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of CITES, which now covers approximately 5,000 species of animals and 29,000 species of plants. After signing the convention, China has made significant progress in wildlife protection. In 1988, China's Law on the Protection of Wildlife went into effect. That year, the government made it illegal to slaughter or sell 256 species of wild animals. Border patrol and customs officers actively clamp down on wildlife trafficking. In addition, the government has tackled the problem online. In April, police officers shut down 628 websites engaged in wildlife trafficking. Illegal trade in wildlife is a transnational crime that can only be effectively controlled through joint efforts of origin, transit, and destination countries.

Link to this web article online (English)


3. Australia: Dippy the tortoise weighs in at 120 kilograms as forklift needed to conduct his first health check

DATE: 10th July, 2013

The Australian Reptile Park's 45-year-old Galapagos tortoise, known as Dippy, needed a forklift and industrial scales for his weigh-in at Somersby on the New South Wales central coast. The park's senior curator, Liz Vella, said the best way to gauge a tortoise's health during winter was by weighing it. Dippy had actually never been weighed before. His body's condition has just been judged, but he's starting to mature; so it's a really good time to start noting down his weight and keeping on top of it. Winter is always a time they can drop in health because they're used to a warm climate. Dippy tipped the scales at 120 kilograms.

Link to this web article and video online (English)


4. India: Indian Airport Authorities Seize Over 10,000 Exotic Turtles

DATE: 19th July, 2013

Customs officers at an international airport in India seized 10,043 live exotic turtles on Thursday (18th of July). The turtles were identified as red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans). It's fortunate that these turtles were intercepted, said Singh. Had even a few of these turtles escaped into the local ecology, it would have been a disaster. The red-eared slider breeds throughout the year and is so invasive that it would have wiped out many native species.
Airport authorities arrested two passengers said to be Indian nationals travelling from China to Singapore, and landing at Kolkata Airport, after discovering the reptiles in their suitcases . WWF says turtles suffer from poaching, are slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, and fall prey to over-exploitation.
( ATP NOTE: this quote would not apply to red eared sliders that are mostly likely farm raised.)
Officials say an investigation has been launched into the attempted smuggling case. The two suspects arrested while claiming the consignment at the airport on Thursday have been handed over to the office of Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) at Nizam Palace.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

Link 3 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

5. Binh Dinh province, Vietnam: Turtles laying eggs in Hai Giang beach

SOURCE: – DATE: 18th July, 2013

Early in the morning on the 18th of July Huynh Kim Phung – a volunteer of the turtle protection team in Hai Giang village, observed a sea turtle crawling on to Hai Giang beach to lay approximately 120 eggs. Earlier on 3rd June other sea turtles were observed on the beach laying, altogether, approximately 400 eggs. The turtle eggs are now being protected by volunteers and the Division of Fisheries Resources Protection.

ATP NOTE: Although the article doesn't name the species, it is most likely that the sea turtle was a hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). Hai Giang beach is known to be one of two nesting beaches of hawksbill sea turtles in Quy Nhon City (Binh Dinh province).

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


6. Quang Ninh province, Vietnam: Turtles transported by taxi

SOURCE: – DATE: 18th July, 2013

On the morning of the 17th of July, policemen of Binh Lieu district stopped a taxi bearing the license plate 14N-5647 driving on the National Highway 18C. In the car the policemen discovered 68 turtles (unknown species). According to the driver, he was hired by a Chinese person to transport these turtles from Ha Long city to Binh Lieu district. Policemen of Binh Lieu transferred the turtles to Forest Protection Department of Binh Lieu for further handling, and fined the Chinese person 10 million dong (approximately $470).

NOTE: According to Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), the turtles found in the taxi were 68 Malayan snail-eating turtles (Malayemys subtrijuga) and were liquidated all later.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

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