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ATP WEEKLY TURTLE BULLETIN

No. 95, 30th August 2013



1. Taipei: Taiwan seized over 2,500 rare turtles bound for China

SOURCE: Google news; google.com; International Business Times; ibtimes.com
DATE: 25th August, 2013

Taiwan coastguards seized more than 2,500 protected turtles bound for dinner plates in China from a container on board a vessel in Kaohsiung, a port in the south of Taiwan on the 24th of August 2013. Officials called it the biggest smuggling case of its kind they had ever seen. 2,626 rare turtles were discovered including 1,180 Asian yellow pond turtles (Mauremys mutica) and 1,446 yellow-lined box turtles (Cuora flavomarginata). They arrested a man surnamed Cheng but declined to provide more details because they are chasing the masterminds of the smuggling ring. The two types of turtles are on Taiwan's second of the three-category wildlife protection list, meaning they are deemed rare and valuable. “After consuming all of their own turtles, now they [the Chinese] are turning their eyes to Southeast Asia and Taiwan,” said Lin Kuo-Chang, head of conservation affairs at Taiwan's Council of Agriculture. "We have seen the Chinese trade vacuum out one region after another — Burma, Vietnam, Borneo, Java, then Sumatra," says Peter Paul van Dijk, director of the tortoise and freshwater turtle biodiversity program at Virginia-based Conservation International. "Beginning with Vietnam in the early '90s, China's demand for turtles has caused the Asian Turtle Crisis. And the problem is, because many species are considered common, no one is paying any attention to the turtles," said Ross Kiester, Ph.D., chief scientist for the Turtle Conservancy. 75 per cent of Asia's 90 species of tortoise and freshwater turtles were threatened by 2007. Worldwide, 40 per cent of turtle species are at immediate risk of extinction, according to Conservation International.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)


Link 2 to this web article online (English)


Link 3 to this web article online (English)



© Taiwan Forestry Bureau/AFP



© Taiwan Forestry Bureau/AFP


2. Vietnam: Concern over the escape of “Hoan Kiem turtle” from Dong Mo Lake

SOURCE: ven.vn; asianturtleprogram.org; giaothongvantai.com.vn
DATE: 27th August 2013

The dam on Dong Mo lake, the only known wild habitat of Swinhoe's softshell turtle, Rafetus swinhoei, was opened on the 21st of August 2013. Water had risen to such a level that it was running over the top of the dam. Lake management notified the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) and lake owners so that additional nets could be placed before the dam to secure the turtle before the dam was opened. 7 nets were placed before the dam but even these temporary barriers might not prevent the turtle from escaping. In November 2008 the 68kg-turtle had already escaped after flooding broke the dam while it was under construction. Fortunately swift action by the local counterpart and ATP team enabled the local NGO, Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), and local authorities to successful rescue and return the animal to the lake. Following this escape, a temporary fence spanning the 60m wide and 7-meter deep inlet to the dam has been put in place by the ATP to provide a barrier preventing another escape if the dam is opened. This year's opening of the dam again highlights the need to protect the turtle from escaping with a more permanent construction.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)


Link 3 to this web article online (English)





3. Vietnam: Turtles near extinction to be returned home to new conservation area

Follow-up Bulletin No. 94

SOURCE: asianturtleprogram.org; vietnamnews.vn – DATE: 26th August, 2013

71 Vietnamese pond turtles (Mauremys annamensis) arriving from European zoos last week, along with 200 animals kept at Turtle Conservation Centre – Cuc Phuong National Park (TCC) are to be returned home to their native range in Vietnam next year. The Asian Turtle Programme and the People's Committee of Quang Ngai province plan to establish a conservation area based in Quang Ngai, covering over 100ha of natural habitat for the species. So far, funds of approximately US$30,000 have been made available for the project from international organisations including the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.
The Deputy Head of Quang Ngai Province's Forest Management Department, Mr. Nguyen Dai, said that all turtles will receive an electronic chip which is implanted under the skin to track the released animals. He added that the turtle centre within the proposed conservation area will employ two animal keepers, two security guards, two technicians and one forest ranger. He pledges that the local authority will be able to cover their salaries if the financial support of international organisations is limited, giving the turtles enough time to adapt to life back in the wild. Everybody involved in this project hopes that these rare turtles return to their native habitat soon and will have the chance to live out their natural lives where they belong.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)


Link 2 to this web article online (English)




4.
Dien Bien province, Vietnam: Muong Nhe Nature Reserve releases animals back to the forest

SOURCE: dienbientv.vn
DATE: 21st August, 2013

On the 20th of August 2013, the management board of the Muong Nhe Nature Reserve released 3 big headed turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) (1.4kg) and 1 Assam macaque (Macaca assamensis) (2.1 kg) back to the forest. The animals were all confiscated from local hunters . Unfortunately, 3 other Assam macaques which also had been confiscated died before the release.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

 


5. 
Vietnam: Snakes and turtles sold at border markets

SOURCE: nongnghiep.vn
DATE: 26th August, 2013

Every year during the rainy season wildlife markets at the Cambodia-Vietnam border flourish. Cambodian people take advantage of the floods in the forests to hunt snakes and turtles. In general, around 50-80kg of snakes are sold every day, with prices increasing by 15-20 million VND (~$700-$950) per kg compared to last year. Prices for turtles (unknown species) vary, from 350.000 VND (~$16.5) (low quality) to 450.000 VND (~$21) (high quality). According to the people selling the wildlife, the number of snakes and turtles sold in these markets increase every year. The animals are sold to Vietnamese who resell the snakes and turtles to restaurants in the Mekong Delta.

Link to this news article online (Vietnamese)



© dienbientv.vn


© nongnghiep.vn


6. Kaohsiung city, Taiwan: Researchers use satellites to track green sea turtle movement

SOURCE: focustaiwan.tw – DATE: 24th August, 2013

Two green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) were released on the 24th of August 2013 after being fixed with satellite transmitters that will let a team of researchers and marine workers keep tabs on their movement as they head out to sea, said the Liuqiu Township Office in southern Taiwan's Pingtung County. The team, which hails from National Taiwan Ocean University, is using transmitters provided by Hong Kong's Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the U.S.-based Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center under the National Marine Fisheries Service. Over the past several years, more than 1,500 eggs have been found in the area, giving birth to some 900 new-born turtles which then swam out to open sea. The researchers and township officials have urged the Council of Agriculture and related agencies to set aside resources for more satellite tracking devices to help boost preservation efforts.

Link to this web article online (English)




© focustaiwan.tw


7. Gia Lai province, Vietnam: Police seizes 100 kg of wildlife in a cab after a local tip-off

SOURCE: nhandan.org.vn
DATE: 27th August, 2013

On the 27th of August 2013, the Economic Police in cooperation with Traffic Police of Duc Co district (Gia Lai province) searched a cab was reported by local people to be trafficking live wild animals. The cab was on its way from the Le Thanh international border gate to Pleiku city. Police found approximately 100kg of wildlife including king cobras, civets, lizards and turtles (unknown species) with unknown origin. The driver was hired to transport these animals to a man in Pleiku city for consumption. The animals were transferred to local authorities for further handling.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

 


8. Hanoi, Vietnam: Exotic turtles sold publicly in front of Tran Quoc pagoda

SOURCE: news.zing.vn
DATE: 28th August, 2013

Lately, red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) have been publicly sold in front of Tran Quoc pagoda for 60.000 VND per animal (~$2.84). Most likely they are caught in the West Lake and other lakes in Hanoi. Although the people selling the turtles attract potential buyers by putting the turtles on a leash (by drilling a hole through the turtles' carapace) and letting them sit on the sidewalk, not many people actually buy them.


Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


© nhandan.org.vn


© news.zing.vn


9. Ba Ria – Vung Tau province, Vietnam: 100-kg turtle slaughtered

SOURCE: baodatviet.vn – DATE: 25th August, 2013

On the 19th of August 2013, the Forest Protection Unit of Con Dao National Park (Ba Ria – Vung Tau province) discovered two men slaughtering a sea turtle (unknown species) during a patrol in the Bai San area. The turtle measured 1.2 metre in length and weighed approximately 100kg. One of the two men, Hoang – residing to Vinh Long province, was arrested while his partner in crime fled the scene. Local authorities are now searching for the escaped suspect.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)




10. Bhubaneswar, India: Odisha Forest Officials, Railway Protection Force (RPF) busted turtle smuggling gang

SOURCE: orissadiary.com – DATE: 27th August, 2013

The Railway Protection Force (RPF) and forest officials of Odisha state in India busted an interstate turtle smuggling gang on the 27th of August 2013. As many as 122 Indian soft-shell turtles (Nilssonia gangetica) were seized at Bhubaneswar railway station and at one of the suspect's home. Investigation revealed that for two years one of the arrested men was buying turtles from the other suspect for Rs 50 ($0.73; 15,531 VND ) to Rs 60 ($0.88; 18,723 VND) and resold the turtles for Rs 200 ($2.93; 62.340 VND) per kilogram to some selected hotels in Kolkata. The turtles seized at the train station were released to a lake in Chandaka while the turtles seized in the suspect's residence were handed over to forest rangers.

Link to this web article online (English)




© vtc.vn



 
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