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No. 209, 20th November 2015

1. Vietnam: Hai Phong Province Customs Department in Vietnam finds 40 foot shipping container containing dried sea turtles, turtle shells and dried geckos.
SOURCE: - DATE: 20thNovember 2015

On the 20th of November 2015 the Hai Phong Customs Department reported that a patrol team had found a 40 foot shipping container in which part of the shipment was made up of dried sea turtles, turtle shells and dried geckos inside. The shipment had come from Klang Port in Malaysia to Hai Phong Port in northern Vietnam. On the customs declaration for the shipment was claimed as items made of coconut.

ATP NOTE: from the photograph the shipment appears to be Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and Tokay Geckos (Gekko gecko).

It is not currently known how many animals were in the shipment.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

wildlife smuggled into Vietnam

© Hai Phong Customs

wildlife smuggled into Vietnam

© Hai Phong Customs

Indian Star Turtle

© An ninh TV

2. Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam: 20 turtles confiscated
SOURCE: – DATE: 18th November 2015

On the 12th of November 2015, 20 turtles including 4 Elongated Tortoise (Indotestudo elongata) and 16 eastern Black-bridged Leaf Turtles (Cyclemys pulchristriata) were confiscated from a motorbike driver in Chau Thanh District, Tay Ninh province. On the 16th of November police handed them over to the Forest Protection Department (FPD).

ATP NOTE: The release or placement plans for these animals remain unknown.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

3. Malaysia: A single boat has be seized transporting 3,000 turtle eggs in Sabah in Malaysian Borneo.
SOURCE: – DATE: 15th November 2015

General Operation Force (GOF) has seized more than 3,000 turtle eggs from a pump boat heading towards Sabah waters. Director of Sabah Wildlife Department William Baya thanked the GOF for their success and hoped more can be done to help curb smuggling activities in Sabah waters. Baya added that the smuggling (of turtle eggs) would taint Sabah’s turtle conservation efforts. The authority had arrested the boatman to assist investigation and the boat was also seized. The suspect will be charged under Section 41(1) Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 as soon as investigation is completed. Under the section, the offense carries fine of RM 50,000 ($11,692) or five years jail or both upon conviction.

ATP NOTE: Species not reported in the story but possibly a marine turtle species. Contact us if you have more details on this story.

Link to this web article online (English)

border control

© Nik Abdullah Nik Omar

4. Malaysia: Turtle species of significant conservation value still in temple ponds in Malaysia
SOURCE: – DATE: 19th September 2015

Most animals kept at the Kek Lok Si temple’s pond, the largest Buddhist temple on Penang island of Malaysia are Giant Asian Pond Turtles (Heosemys grandis) and Orange-headed Temple Turtles (Heosemys annandalii) but Black Marsh Turtle (Siebenrockiella crassicollis), and Southeast Asian Box Turtle (Cuora amboinensis) and other species are also present, even a Pig-nose Turtle (Carettochelys insculpta) was seen which is the sole living member of its own family, the Carettochelyidae.

Several species at the temple are in serious need of conservation, such as the Southern River Terrapin (Batagur affinis) and Painted Terrapin (Batagur borneoensis). With no opportunities to breed and nest successfully and with risk of high mortality with large number of turtles kept together in unstable conditions this is a good example of how temple ponds are impacting on tortoise and fresh-water turtle, this place has no conservation value, it’s sad to see animals here.

See more on Ronald Orenstein's blog and along with more of his great photos.

Link to this web article online (English)

Giant Asian Pond turtle

© R. Orenstein

Kek Lok Si Temple

© R. Orenstein

Spotted Turtle Clemmy guttata

© M. Rubbo

5. The USA: New Report: Spotted Turtle Among 10 U.S. Species Most Threatened by Habitat Fragmentation
SOURCE: – DATE: 18th November 2015

Turtle Once Common Across Eastern United States Has Lost Half Its Historic Range

The Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) has been named one of the 10 U.S. species most threatened by habitat fragmentation in a new report released today by the Endangered Species Coalition. The report, No Room to Roam: 10 American Species in Need of Connectivity and Corridors, highlights 10 rare or endangered species that lack safe, navigable corridors to connect them to important habitat or other populations.

The spotted turtle was once common throughout the eastern United States, but today it is on the brink of extinction, with a 50 percent reduction in its population size. This turtle is often on the move, typically visiting multiple wetlands throughout the year to forage, mate, thermoregulate and spend the winter. These can't be just any wetlands - the spotted turtle needs clear, clean water; a soft substrate; and aquatic or emergent vegetation. The frequent movements and habitat needs make the spotted turtle especially vulnerable to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and road mortality. 

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

6. The UK: Ellesmere Port aquarium provides home for smuggled tortoises
SOURCE: - DATE: 18th November 2015

A group of smuggled African tortoises are being given weekly weigh-ins by weight watching keepers at the Blue Planet Aquarium, Cheshire Oaks, the UK.

The dozen African Spurred Tortoises (Centrochelys sulcata) were seized by Customs as babies in 2014 after being illegally imported in to the UK. Now around 18 months old, the tortoises, which can live for more than 70 years and grow over 80cms in length, are being individually weighed to ensure they are all fit and healthy. The species is officially designated as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Link to this web article online (English)

African spurred tortoise


7. Spain: Tortoises repopulate Sierra Cabrera
SOURCE: – DATE: 19th November 2015

Keeping a tortoise was an Almeria tradition, but no longer. Changes in the law that came into effect on the 1st of July 2015 turned keeping a “Tortuga mora” or “Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca)” as a pet into a criminal offence.  In extreme cases this is now punishable with a prison term of up to two years.

According to the Junta de Andalucia or the Regional Government of Andalusia, the Environment department collected 2,775 tortoises between July and the end of October.  Although 67 per cent were Almeria-bred tortoises, 33 per cent belonged to the same species but had been imported.

The 1,568 handed-in native tortoises were examined by vets from the Las Almohallas wildlife rehabilitation centre (CREA) in Velez Blanco (Almeria, Andalucia, Spain).  Later they were released in different zones of Sierra Cabrera where the tortoise population were wiped out by a series of forest fires some years ago. Some of the remainder, apart from 122 that had to be put down owing to ill health, were taken to the Las Almohallas as well as CREA centres in other provinces.

Link to this web article online (English)

Indian Star Tortoise

© Neil D' Cruze

8. Fading stars: India’s illegal tortoise trade - in pictures
SOURCE: – DATE: 20th November 2015

The ‘shocking’ scale of illegal trade in Star Tortoises (Geochelone elegans) in southern India has been revealed in a study published in the journal Nature Conservation. A large-scale network, fuelled by growing international demand for exotic pets, is causing extreme suffering to the animals and threatening the survival of the species, researchers warn. In one site alone, at least 55,000 tortoises were poached from the wild in one year.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)


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