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No. 97, 13th September 2013

1. Vietnam: Captive-bred wildlife to serve demand of rich people

DATE: 11th September, 2013

To meet the demands of wealthy people in Vietnam, families in the Mekong Delta are putting their money on wildlife farms: They raise rare and dangerous animals like snakes, pythons, crocodiles and even endangered sea turtles and tortoises. Notably, in the estuary of Ha Tien town, Kien Giang province, a woman named N.T.T raises about 10 hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata); most of which she bought from Cambodian fishermen. Another farmer in Tri Ton district, An Giang province, raises turtles to sell – and claims that they are captive bred - however, he also has a collection of nearly 100 turtles including endangered species.

ATP NOTE: These farms most likely do not breed but ranch these rare animals – meaning that wild caught animals are caught but receive paperwork and permits once they are on the farm. Marine turles are not being bred in captivity anywhere and looking at the Hawksbill sea turtle holding tanks shown in this article, it is clear that the animals don't have the possibility to breed there. The current situation in Vietnam is that many ‘farms' are laundering operations for illegally caught wild animals and much stricter controls and monitoring is required if the situation is to be brought under control. The pictures in this article show orange-headed temple turtles (Heosemys grandis) and elongated tortoises (Indotestudo elongata).

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


2. Quang Tri province, Vietnam: Olive ridley sea turtle rescued and released

DATE: 10th September, 2013

On the 9th of September, 2013, Tran Minh Hung, a fisherman from Hai Lang district, Quang Tri province, caught an Olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea). The turtle measured60cm in length and 45cm in width and weighed approximately 10kg. Mr. Hung was unsure what species he had caught, so notified the local authorities who identified it as one of 5 sea turtle species listed as endangered in Vietnam. In the afternoon of the next day the turtle was released by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) of Quang Tri province and the local authority of Hai Khe commune, Hai Lang district.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)


3. Hong Kong, China: Restaurant owner saves Hawksbill turtle from cooking pot

DATE: 6th September, 2013

On the 3rd of September 2013 a rare, young hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) was saved by Ng Pak-yan, owner of the Royal Dragon Seafood Cuisine in Mong Kok, Yau Tsim Mong District, Hong Kong, from ending up in a cooking pot. Ng Pak-yan transferred the animal to the marine mammal park of the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation for health checks. "If the health checks show that it is healthy and in good condition, we will release it back to the ocean in the south of Hong Kong," said Ng Ka-yan, a wetland and fauna conservation officer at the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. Officials said the turtle was about 36cm long and it looked healthy. It was about 20 years old and still too young to be sexed just from its appearance. The restaurant owner Ng Pak-yan, who failed to convince the person who caught the rare turtle to release it again, decided not to cook the turtle but to buy it from the fishermen instead. "Turtles are spiritual creatures," Ng said. "They bring good fortune and can live very long. People should not be eating them."

Link to this web article online (English)


Hong Kong, China: Rescued sea turtle dies after medical check

SOURCE: The Standard online newspaper;
DATE: 11th September 2013

A critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle that was saved from a Mong Kok restaurant kitchen has died at Ocean Park, probably from gastroenteritis. A park spokeswoman said the animal appeared to be in good condition when it was sent to the park on Thursday, 5th September 2013. "However, after detailed examination, the veterinary team found the turtle was underweight, and had a metal fishing hook in its proximal esophagus," she said. It died on Sunday, 8th September 2013. The turtle was caught at Ma Wan by an angler who took it to the Royal Dragon Seafood Cuisine to have it cooked. Restaurant owner Ng Pak-yan refused and instead bought it from the angler.

Link to this web article online (English)



4. Amazonian Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears

DATE: 11th September, 2013

The sight of butterflies flocking onto the heads of yellow-spotted river turtles (Podocnemis unifilis) in the western Amazon rain forest is not uncommon, at least if one is able to sneak up on the skittish reptiles.

The butterflies are likely attracted to the turtles' tears because the liquid drops contain salt, specifically sodium, an important mineral that is scant in the western Amazon, said Phil Torres, a scientist who does much of his research at the Tambopata Research Center in Peru and is associated with Rice University.

Unlike butterflies, turtles get plenty of sodium through their largely carnivorous diet. Meat contains significant levels of the salt. But herbivores sometimes struggle to get enough sodium and other minerals, "They end up needing this extra mineral source," he said.

One question that arises: Does the butterfly feeding help, hurt or have no impact on the turtles? Torres said it's not completely clear, but the teary endeavor probably has little impact on the turtles, other than perhaps making them more vulnerable to predators like big cats , since the butterflies can obstruct their vision.

Link to this web article online (English)


© Sam Tsang

© Olivier Blaise/Getty

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