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No. 99, 27th September 2013

1. Thailand: 220 turtles seized at Suvarnabhumi airport

DATE: 22nd September, 2013

Customs officials have seized 200 turtles worth about 1 million baht ($31,993; 681 million VND) on the black market which were found at Suvarnabhumi airport on the morning of the 22nd of September. Paisal Chuenchit, director of the Customs Department's investigation and suppression office, said customs officials found three suitcases near Gate No.6 of the international arrival lounge at about 7.45am but nobody claimed the suitcases. Altogether 220 black spotted or black pond turtles (Geoclemys hamiltonii) were found in the suitcases which were wrapped with brown adhesive tape. The market prices of the fresh water turtles, which originated in Bangladesh, range between 1,000-10,000 baht (32 USD – 320 USD) each. They are classified as endangered animals by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The turtles are said to be forwarded to relevant officials who can assist with their rehabilitation. Officials also try to locate the suspected smugglers and press charges.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

Link 3 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© Sutthiwit Chayutvoraken

2. Kolkata, Bangladesh: 115 turtles seized near Bangla border

SOURCE: – DATE: 21st September, 2013

On the 19th of September the Border Security Force (BSF) seized 115 turtles which were smuggled into Bangladesh near the Tentulberia Border Outpost. The endangered turtles would have fetched Rupees 25 lakh ($40,228; 856 million VND) on the international market. In the evening of the 19 th of September, a man was spotted with a backpack moving towards the international border from the Indian side. "When we asked the suspect to stop, he dropped the backpack and fled through the jute fields across the international border. When opening the backpack our men found 72 spotted pond turtles (Geoclemys hamiltonii) and 43 narrow-headed soft shell turtles (Chitra indica) , two endangered species," said an officer of BSF. State forest department officials were handed over the turtles at Tentulberia. On the 1st of September, the BSF had seized 952 star tortoises (Geochelone elegans) that were being smuggled into Bangladesh through the same border outpost. Since then, the BSF has urged the forest department to collect information on possible attempts to smuggle out animals and wildlife products through the Indo-Bangla border and pass it on to the border guarding force. Forest officials have also been invited to attend meetings on security issues that are held by the BSF routinely.

Link to this web article online (English)

3. Nghe An, Vietnam: People curious about a turtle

DATE: 26th September, 2013

On the 22nd of September, at around 2am, Mrs Nam while sleeping heard her dog barking excitedly outside the house. Hastily she went to the door and surprisingly found a turtle crawling into her house. The turtle was identified to be a yellow-headed temple turtle (Heosemys annandalii) weighing 12kg. The turtle moved fast and was not scared of people. Since the discovery of the turtle, a lot of curious people have come to Mrs Nam's house to have a look at it. They believe that this particular turtle is sacred and that individuals of this species grow older than 100 years. Some people enquired to buy the turtle and offered of up to 90 million VND ($4,230) but Mrs Nam has declined every offer. The Forest Protection Unit of Yen Thanh district also visited her house and advised Mrs Nam to transfer the turtle and release it back to the wild; however, her family, once again, firmly denied.

ATP NOTE: the species is fully protected under Vietnamese national wildlife protection law Decree 32/2006/ND-CP as category two. Interesting a number of confiscations of this species have taken place in recent years in Nghe An province.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


4. Japan: Swimming again, the turtle with rubber flippers who lost her own fins in a vicious shark attack

DATE: 23rd September, 2013

Yu, a loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) who lost her front flippers in a 2008's shark attack is now enjoying her prosthetic fins. The 200-pound female turtle wears a black vest, to which the rubber flippers are attached, after aquarium staff had previously tried other versions, which squeezed her stumps and caused her discomfort. Naoki Kamezaki, the aquarium's curator said: 'We have worked hard to design the vest in a way that prevents the turtle from taking it off unwittingly. It can flutter the limbs as the vest is soft.' While there have been various attempts to fit turtles with prosthetic fins around the world, the aquarium believes Yu is the only turtle to enjoy swimming using her prosthetic limbs without any problems - and she has got through 27 pairs of rubber flippers Yu has become a tourist attraction and is thought to be approximately 25-years-old, but she could live to over 50 years of age.

Link to this web article online (English)


5. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Tortoise Jelly as one of the eight delicious Chinese cuisines

DATE: 21st September, 2013

Ho Chi Minh City is famous for a lot of Chinese cuisines as it is one of the most multicultural regions of Vietnam. One of Chinese specialties is called Tortoise Jelly (in Vietnamese: Quy phuc linh) which is said to be a jelly-like medicine and also sold as a dessert. It was traditionally made from the powdered plastron of Chinese three-striped box turtles (Cuora trifasciata) – commonly known as the golden turtle, and a variety of herbal products, for example, Chinaroot (Smilax glabra). More often, commercially available Tortoise Jelly sold as a dessert does not contain plastron powder at all, despite the product name and the prominent turtle images on most brands' labels. They do, however, share the same herbal additives as the medicine and are similarly marketed as being good for skin when eaten.

Link to this web article online (English)

© AFP/Getty Images


6. An Giang province, Vietnam: Endangered sea turtle successfully raised in captivity

DATE: 20th September, 2013

Mr Nguyen Thanh Sang (An Giang province, Vietnam), in early 2013, while fishing on a canal near his house, caught a turtle which he later decided to keep since he thought it was ‘too beautiful' to be released back. At first, not knowing which species the turtle was, Mr Sang fed it with the food for soft-shell turtles which his family was raising. The turtle grew quite fast, and soon turned as big as a large dish. Not until recently when one of his friends came to his house and saw the turtle he found out that he was keeping a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) – one of the five endangered sea turtles of Vietnam. Mr Sang does not want to sell it and continues to keep the turtle as a pet.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


Vietnam: Vietnam remains puzzled about how to deal with exotic species

DATE: 19th September, 2013

Vietnam still doesn't know what it should do to prevent harmful exotic species like the channeled applesnail (Pomacea canaliculata), the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) and the Spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus winchell) which have been introduced to Vietnam. These invasive species harm the biodiversity and threaten the national food security. Some species are very expensive and are sold for high prices. The most serious problem is that as well as the Vietnamese people being unaware the potential problems or dangers these exotic species pose, but state management agencies also do not have information about the species and do nothing to prevent them from being imported and traded within Vietnam.. Mai Hong Quan from the Biodiversity Conservation Agency said that exotic species have damaged the irrigation systems, are affecting the cultivation and husbandry of other species, resulting in decreasing output and productivity of farms. Moreover, globalization which facilitates trading, tourism and the transportation of goods, has created favorable conditions for these invasive species. There are three different ways that species can be introduced to Vietnam: They are introduced through natural disasters like a typhoon, storm or flooding, or through trade and transportation, both accidentally and on purpose. All the exotic species discovered in Vietnam so far are found on the list of the world's 100 most hazardous exotic species. Despite all the information available on the subject, the state and local agencies still find it difficult to identify and prevent exotic species from entering Vietnam. According to a recent survey conducted by the Biodiversity Conservation Agency, 90 percent of agency officials think the state agencies are not capable of controlling exotic species due to the lack of qualified field officers, knowledge, technical and financial support. Customs agencies take the responsibility of controlling the import of exotic species; however, 50 percent of surveyed customs officers could not identify harmful exotic species. ATP NOTE: this failure to identify species is also a concern for identification of endangered and protected species. Deputy Director of the Legal Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment Tran Van Khuong also noted that despite the existence of many legal documents, competent agencies still cannot identify and handle exotic species. He worried that if the existing problems cannot be properly solved, more harmful exotic species will be introduced to Vietnam eventually and cause unexpected consequences.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)



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