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No. 92, 9th August 2013

1. Khanh Hoa province, Vietnam: Leatherback sea turtle released back to sea

SOURCE: – DATE: 5th August, 2013

In the afternoon of the 5th of August, 2013, according to Vo Khac En – Head of Aquatic resources exploitation and environment management (Khanh Hoa Department of Aquatic resources exploitation and Protection), a leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) was released back to the sea. It measures 2m in length, 1.25m in width (up to 2.3m including front legs), and weighs about 400kg. On the 24th of August, Nguyen Ngoc Tan, an owner of a seafood restaurant at Bai Dai beach (Thuy Trieu hamlet, Cam Hai Dong commune, Cam Ranh city) discovered the turtle which had gone onshore to lay eggs and got hurt . He tried to save the turtle by continuously watering it and notified relevant authorities. The turtle was then released back to the sea as soon as possible. However, in spite of all turmoil, the leatherback sea turtle had laid approximately 100 eggs. Her eggs are expected to hatch at the end of August. This is the first time a leatherback sea turtle has come to Khanh Hoa beach to lay eggs. According to Tran Mai Thi Kim Hoa, Chairwoman of the People's Committee of Cam Hai Dong commune, thanks to raising awareness about the protection of sea turtles, most people, when seeing turtles coming onshore, will notify the authorities rather than catch and kill them for food.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© Phòng nông nghiệp huyện Cam Lâm cung cấp

2. Ecuador: Once extinct in the wild, Galapagos giant tortoises return to Pinzón Island

DATE: 2nd August, 2013

After more than 100 years, Galápagos giant tortoise hatchlings finally have a chance to thrive and survive on their native Pinzón Island, after conservationists cleared it of the invasive rats that nearly wiped out the animals. Like most Galápagos giant tortoises—including the conservation icon Lonesome George, who died last year—the tortuga subspecies that once lived on Pinzón Island was nearly wiped out by the arrival of pirates, fishermen and invasive species in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In this case, the greatest threat to the Pinzón Island tortoise subspecies (Chelonoidis nigra duncanensis) came in the form of voracious black rats (Rattus rattus) and Norway rats (R. norvegicus), which ate both the tortoises' eggs and their defenceless hatchlings. By the beginning of the twentieth century, it appeared that no young tortoises on the island were surviving until adulthood. Conservationists took the first step toward saving the Pinzón Island tortoises in 1965 by collecting the animals and placing them into captive breeding programs.
Tortoises were then hatched and reared on other islands and brought back to Pinzón Island, but the impossibility of successful breeding on their home island led to the subspecies being classified as extinct in the wild . The next step began a few years ago when Galápagos National Park and its partners launched a program to eradicate the rats and other invasive species throughout the archipelago, starting on smaller islands such as Pinzón. Poison was dropped on the island. Pinzón has now been tentatively declared rat-free.

Late last month Galápagos National Park took the third step and returned 118 juvenile tortoises to Pinzón from a breeding centre on Santa Cruz Island. The young tortoises were placed in nests in their native volcanic soil. Last week, the hatchlings started to emerge and explore their newly resurrected home. The young tortoises may represent the only healthy juveniles on Pinzón since before the year 1900. Some risks remain, of course. Although the poisons dropped on Pinzón in December appear to have wiped out rats and other invasive rodents, the island will be monitored for two years to make sure none survived.

Link to this web article online (English)

© Francesca Cunninghame at Charles Darwin Foundation

3. Vietnam: Vietnam about to be given Vietnamese pond turtle by foreign zoos

SOURCE: – DATE: 7th August, 2013

According to Bui Dang Phong, Director of the Cuc Phuong Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC – Cuc Phuong National Park, Ninh Binh), on the 16th of August, the TCC will receive 71 Vietnamese pond turtles (Mauremys annamensis) from Rotterdam Zoo (the Netherlands) and Münster Zoo (Germany) which have successfully bred the critically endangered species in captivity.. The Vietnamese pond turtle is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is endemic to central Vietnam. Populations in the wild have decreased drastically due to hunting, illegal trade and habitat loss.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Quang Ninh province, Vietnam: Coach loaded with wild animals seized

DATE: 4th August, 2013

On the morning of the 4th of August, 2013, the Police Department of Road traffic and railway of Quang Ninh stopped and checked a coach bearing the license plate 14B-006.17, running from Ha Long city to Mong Cai city . On the coach police found 32 Impressed tortoises (Manouria impressa) (67kg), 17 box turtles (unknown species) (13.2 kg), and 8 pond turtles (unknown species) (11.5kg), 60 kg of snakes, 29 kg of Chinese ratsnakes (Ptyas korros), 28 kg oriental ratsnakes (Ptyas mucosus) and 11kg of frogs (unknown). The origin of these animals is unknown. All animals were transferred to the Forest Protection Unit of Ha Long City for further investigation and handling.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)


5. Vietnam: Protecting sea turtles in Vietnam

DATE: 8th August, 2013

On the 7th and the 8th of August, the Vietnam Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Management Authority (VN CITES MA) and the wildlife trade monitoring network (TRAFFIC) held a conference on “Sea turtle trade and conservation in Vietnam” in Khanh Hoa province. There are five species of sea turtles native to Vietnam: the Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the Olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea).
Four of these species are known to nest on 14 sand banks in the Gulf of Tonkin and in coastal areas and islands of central Vietnam. All of these sea turtle species are threatened with extinction. Vietnam has created a database for sea turtles, nesting maps and established groups who rescue and take care of sea turtle hatchlings, etc. However, there is a lack of funds, human resources and technology to support these conservation activities.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)



6. Hanoi, Vietnam: Keeled box turtle released

SOURCE: – DATE: 18th July, 2013

In the afternoon of the 18th of July 2013 a Keeled box turtle (Cuora mouhotii) was released back to the forest in Ba Vi National Park by an officer of the Forest Protection Department (FPD) and Mr Phung Xuan Tho, a Hanoi resident. The turtle was rescued by Mr Tho who was driving home on the 17th of July when he noticed some people who had been to the forest and were selling a yellow turtle (on the side of the road). Being a wildlife enthusiast, he tried to persuade them to release the turtle back to the forest but the people refused. After bargaining for a while, Mr Tho spent all the money he had to buy the turtle. Mr Tho and his wife decided to transfer the turtle to Ba Vi National Park where the FPD released the animal back to the wild.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


7. San Antonio, USA: Two-headed turtle at Texas zoo gets Facebook page

Follow up Bulletin No. 87

DATE: 29th July, 2013

A two-headed turtle born last month at the San Antonio Zoo has become so popular that she has her own Facebook page. Zoo officials say the Texas cooter, named Thelma and Louise, has been doing well. Spokeswoman Debbie Rios-Vanskike says the turtle eats and swims, and added that the two heads get along. The Facebook page on Sunday showed photos of the quirky reptile and imaginary conversations between the two heads. The resident of San Antonio Zoo has amassed more than 1,750 friends so far. She is quite well-educated and claims to have studied at the University of Turtledome and Slider High School.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)


8. Green turtles swallowing more plastic than ever before, study finds

DATE: 9th August, 2013

Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are swallowing plastic at twice the rate they did 25 years ago, according to a new study which is based on data collected across the globe since the late 1980s and analysed by researchers at the University of Queensland. Study leader and PhD candidate Qamar Schuyler says green and leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are eating more plastic than ever before and more than any other form of debris. An estimated 80% of debris comes from land-based sources. Young ocean-going turtles are more likely to eat plastic than their older, coastal-dwelling relatives. Conducting coastal clean-ups is not the single answer to the problem of debris ingestion for local sea turtle populations, but it remains an important step in preventing marine debris input into the ocean.

Link to this web article online (English)


© Kathy Townsend/-AFP/Getty Images

9. Mumbai, India: Endangered birds, turtles seized from pet store

SOURCE: – DATE: 4th August, 2013

Endangered birds , hawks, falcons and turtles (unknown species) being sold illegally at a pet shop on Mira Road in Thane city were rescued by the animal welfare organizations People For Animals and Ahimsa Sangh along with the anti-human trafficking wing (AHTW) of the Thane rural police on the 2nd of August. The owner Tahir Khan (36), who was in the shop when the raid team arrived, was arrested along with his assistant Abhishek Biswas (26). They were booked under the Wildlife Protection Act and sections 504 and 506 of the India Penal Code (IPC). Khan is believed to be a smuggler of wild animals specializing in hawks, falcons and other endangered birds of prey. The shop owner was then released on bail.

Link to this web article online (English)

10. Hanoi, Vietnam: Does heavy rain impact the Hoan Kiem turtle?

SOURCE: – DATE: 8th August, 2013

Heavy rainfall has recently become cause of concern as many areas in Hanoi have been flooded after a series of tropical storms. Many people in Hanoi have expressed their concern for the legendary Hoan Kiem Turtle (Swinhoe's softshell turtle – Rafetus swinhoei) after the banks of the Hoan Kiem lake have overflown.
However, Professor Ha Dinh Duc, a turtle specialist, said that there is nothing to worry about - the turtle is just fine. He argues that, thanks to the improved water management this year, the turtle hasn't emerged as often as before. On the contrary, the Hoan Kiem lake benefits from the heavy rain as it dilutes the lake water and reduces its pollution level . However, in case the turtle emerges and tries to escape from the lake, there is a security team responsible for the safety of turtle, patrolling the lake.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


11. Khanh Hoa province, Vietnam: Rare and precious sea turtles transferred to eco-tourism Company

SOURCE: – DATE: 8th August, 2013

In addition to researching tropical materials and Dioxin spread by the US army during the war, the Vietnam-Russia tropical centre is responsible for studying and developing tropical marine life. Recently, the Vietnam-Russia tropical centre has transferred 7 rare sea turtles (unknown species) to the Tri Nguyen eco-tourism Company. These animals have been taken care of by the Vietnam-Russia tropical centre for many years as part of their marine ecology program. The cooperation plays an important role in conserving and developing the biodiversity of Vietnamese marine life. The Tri Nguyen eco-tourism Company plans to build nesting areas for sea turtles, grow corals, and send Vietnamese experts to Russia to improve their knowledge and expertise for these upcoming projects.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


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