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No. 144, 14th August 2014

1. India: Police arrest criminals carrying 75 smuggled tortoises to Delhi

SOURCE: – DATE: 8 th August 2014

A suspected tortoise smuggler has been arrested on Friday from Kanpur railway station, Uttar Pradesh, India after police found 75 tortoises in the gunny-bag he was carrying. Police said the arrested, Kishanpal from Kolkata, West Bengal, India, was about to board a train to his hometown when they apprehended him and recovered 75 tortoises from his bag. Kishanpal confessed that he had been involved in smuggling for a long time with the tortoises fetching a good price in markets of Kolkata. Police said the rescued tortoises have been handed over to forest ry officials.

Link to this web article online (English)

2. India: 60 tortoises seized from air passenger in Chennai

SOURCE: – DATE: 10 th August 2014

Customs officials at Chennai airport, India on Saturday seized 60 Star Indian Tortoises ( Geochelone elegans ) from a 35-year-old man who was trying to smuggle them to Bangkok on an Air Asia flight scheduled to take off at 10:20pm. Thilakar living in Tondiarpet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India was carrying the tortoises in his check-in bag. The Indian Star Tortoise, an endangered species, is not allowed to be exported as it is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of India.

Link to this web article online (English)

© The Times of India



3. China: An update on the world ' s most endangered turtle

SOURCE: – DATE: 12 th August 2014

Gerald Kuchling returned from China recently with news that was not good but not unexpected. The male Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) at the Suzhou Zoo is not getting the job done.

With hundreds of eggs laid since 2008 by the Changsha Zoo female, but without hatching or even signs of fertility, frustration has continued to mount. To try and confirm what we have long expected, Kaitlin Croyle, a research assistant in the Reproductive Physiology unit with San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research, went to the Suzhou Zoo to examine fresh Rafetus eggs.

Using a technique known as ovo sperm detection, the yolk membranes are removed from eggs in the lab and then stained for sperm and examined microscopically. She was unable to confirm the presence of any sperm, indicating that the male is either infertile, or incapable of inseminating the female.

Link to this web article online (English)

4. Release sea turtles at Cu Lao Cham Marine Park

SOURCE: – DATE: 12 th August 2014

On the 11 th of August 2014, Management Board of Cu Lao Cham Marine Park, in co-operation with Buddhist Sangha of Hoi An, People ' s Committee of Tan Hiep Commune and the Border Defence Force of Cu Lao Cham Island released nine sea turtles in the sea. This activity was carried out to raise awareness to encourage local communities to protect the threatened sea turtles. These sea turtles were transferred by Luong Hoang Long, Green Industry Co., Ltd. Vietnam. Species of sea turtles found in Vietnamese waters are listed in the endangered or critically endangered categories in Vietnam Red Book. ATP Note: It is not clear how the Green Industry Co. Ltd could be holding the marine turtles as they are protected species within Vietnam.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© xa


5. The USA: Photo of man and bloodied sea turtle stirs controversy over social media

SOURCE: – DATE: 13 th August 2014

A photo spread through social media of a man appearing to bite a bloodied sea turtle's head has raised concerns of whether a sacred animal is being desecrated. The image shows the man's teeth near the turtle's head aside another man smiling at the camera. While harming or killing a threatened sea turtle is illegal in Hawaii, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said it's unclear if the photos were taken in Hawaii or in the Marshall Islands, where eating turtle is legal in some instances.

The federal government is reviewing a petition to delist green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Hawaii. If that happens, what these men appear to be doing would become legal.

Link to this web article online (English)

6. The UK: Rare Vietnamese box turtle hatches at Bristol Zoo

SOURCE: – DATE: 13 th August 2014

One of the world's rarest turtles has hatched at a British zoo. The Vietnamese box turtle (Cuora galbinifrons), a critically endangered species, emerged after being kept at a constant temperature in an incubator at Bristol Zoo Gardens for 85 days. Now six weeks old, the creature weighs just half an ounce (14 grams) and is the size of a matchbox. It is currently being kept off-show from zoo visitors in a climate-controlled quarantine room. Once old enough, it will join the six adult box turtles in the Asian turtle breeding room in the zoo's reptile house.

The turtle is the second bred by the zoo , which has kept the species for 12 years. The zoo's first Vietnamese box turtle hatched in 2012 and is thriving on a diet of snails, worms and chopped fruit. Bristol Zoo is working with the Turtle Conservation Centre in Cuc Phuong national park in Vietnam to help safeguard the species. ATP Note: Bristol Zoo hatched a Cuora bourreti formerly a sub-species of Cuora galbinifrons.

Link to this web article online (English)

© Bristol Zoo Gardens

© Z. Hogg

7. Australia: Walker finds bodies of mutilated turtles

SOURCE: – DATE: 13 th August 2014

The gruesome discovery of the remains of at least two green turtles (Chelonia mydas) has shocked Bundaberg resident Louise Jealous-Bennet, who stumbled across the carcasses while walking her dog along the Burnett riverside, Australia. Although Mrs Jealous-Bennet said she had seen a variety of rubbish dumped along the river edge including fish, she had never come across turtle remains before. A Department of Environment and Heritage Protection spokesman said the turtle remains appeared to be that of a green sea turtle. The spokesman said the department had received three reports of similar cases in the past 12 months and it was an offence to kill, harm or otherwise injure a marine turtle without authorisation.

Link to this web article online (English)

8. India: Endangered sea turtles left stranded in Gujarat

SOURCE: – DATE: 13 th August 2014

Marine conservationists are trying to rescue a group of endangered sea turtles which are stranded inside a Gujarat lake, India after construction of large road culverts blocked their entry into the Gulf of Kutch, Gujarat, India. A team of researchers from the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) have found that in Gujarat's Armabada lake, a group of 20-30 turtles - Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) - have been trapped for around a decade.

"The lake is connected to the sea through a backwater channel. These turtles might have come here in search of food but the large turtles could not go back to the sea where they came from as the culverts narrowed the mouth of the canal," wildlife biologist B C Choudhury said. Since then the small population of turtles are stuck in the lake spread over 5-6 hectares. As there are no sandbanks near the lake, breeding of turtles is impossible. "They do not have a future in the lake and therefore we are trying to rescue them back into the Gulf of Kutch," he said.

Link to this web article online (English)

9. Indonesia: Adopting juvenile turtles for conservation

SOURCE: – DATE: 13 th August 2014

The Family of Gadjah Mada University Alumni Virtual (Kavir), together with local communities around Pandansimo Baru Beach, Bantul, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia has launched a juvenile turtle adoption program to conserve Olive Ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea), which are gradually disappearing from the coastal area. The program, which was launched in 2013, encourages local people to help hatch turtle eggs and Kavir will buy the juvenile turtles, locally known as tukik , for Rp 15,000 (US$1.28) each. Local people will use the money they receive from the program to fund the hatching of eggs, he added. In 2013, about 300 juvenile turtles were released into the sea and this year, the number might be higher because as of August, more than 300 baby turtles have been released into their natural habitat.

Link to this web article online (English)

10. The USA: Giant Aldabra Tortoises Debut At the Wildlife Conservation Society ' s Bronx Zoo

SOURCE: – DATE: 14 th August 2014

Two giant Aldabra tortoises (Geochelone gigantean) are now grazing outside Zoo Center at the Wildlife Conservation Society' s Bronx Zoo, New York, the USA. Both tortoises are males; one weighs approximately 400 pounds (141kg) and the other tips the scales at around 600 pounds (272 kg). Their exhibit is located at the iconic Zoo Center and resembles their natural habitat with a sandy substrate, lush vegetation, and a freshwater pool.

Besides their impressive size, Aldabra tortoises are thought to live 200 years or more. Aldabra tortoises are one of only two remaining species of giant tortoises; the other being the Galapagos tortoise. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies giant Aldabra tortoises as Vulnerable, with populations in decline. Estimates indicate there are approximately 100,000 animals remaining in the wild.

Link to this web article online (English)


11. The Importance of Hofmann Forest - Interactive Map


Hofmann Forest is a 79,000 acre (319.7km 2 ) tract of pine forests and wetlands, owned by the Endowment Fund of North Carolina State University. It is so expansive that 3 different rivers flow from its boundaries, and it is the single largest tract of state-owned land in North Carolina. Hofmann Forest is also the largest university research and teaching forest in the world! Hofmann Forest is home to a robust population of black bears, and serves as important habitat for bobcats, box turtles, and other wildlife species. The pocosin terrain is difficult to survey, and parts of Hofmann may retain other rare species such as red cockaded woodpeckers, venus fly traps, and eastern diamondback rattlesnakes.

In 2013, NCSU signed an agreement to sell the forest to a private businessman from Illinois, Jerry Walker. Walker's leaked prospectus bragged about converting 45,000 acres (182.1km 2) of Hofmann's "virgin organic soils" into lucrative cropfields over a 10 year period. From a wildlife perspective, this would be disastrous.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

© Julie Larsen Maher

© B. Boyarsky


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