Asian Turtle Program
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No. 234, 13th May 2016

1. Vietnam: On the Ground - Turtle is legendary in Vietnam, but it's on the verge of extinction
SOURCE: - DATE: 12th May 2016

The Dong Mo turtle in Dong Mo lake, Vietnam was the only giant Yangtze soft-shell turtle known to remain in the wild - and one of only three Rafetus swinhoei known to exist anywhere. The others, an aged female and her apparently impotent male companion, reside in China's Suzhou Zoo.

The rare species received a flurry of international attention in January as Vietnam mourned the death of Hanoi's beloved 360-pound Cu Rua, or Great-Grandfather Turtle who revered as a link to Vietnam's heroic mythology. However, the course ahead for the species is unclear, given the centuries-old tension between Vietnam and China, now focused on disputed islands in the South China Sea. Vietnamese conservationists express doubts that authorities would be willing to send Vietnam's only known Rafetus to China. A better possibility, one suggests, would be to deliver his sperm to the Chinese zoo.

ATP NOTE: the story covers work by the Asian Turtle Program to protect the species in Vietnam.

Link to this web article online (English)

Rafetus swinhoei

© Vietnam News Agency


2. Vietnam: Rescue sea turtle from being slaughtered
SOURCE: – DATE: 10th May 2016

On the 10th of May 2016, Lai Hoa People’s Committee of Vinh Chau town, Soc Trang province, southern Vietnam announced that they collaborated with Lai Hoa Border Guards and Sub-Department of Exploitation and Protection of Fisheries Resources of Soc Trang province in taking care of a sea turtle before releasing it to the sea.

On the 9th of May, the 40kg turtle was found entangled in nets by a local fisherman. Unaware of the protected status of the turtle, the fisherman intended to slaughter it. Luckily, local authorities quickly got involved and advised the man to hand over the animal. The turtle is not in good condition and under care of Lai Hoa Border Guards before being released.

ATP NOTE: as seen from the pictures, the turtle appears to be a Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas). It is confirmed that Soc Trang local authorities have just released this turtle to the sea on the morning of the 10th of May 2016.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

rescue turtle in Soc Trang

© Vietnam News Agency

turtle cared by Conservation agency

© Huu Nhat

3. Vietnam: Conservation organization released a sea turtle to the wild
SOURCE: – DATE: 10th May 2016

On the 10th of May 2016, Wildlife At Risk (WAR), a non-profit organization, released a sea turtle back to the wild area of Nui Chua Marine Protected Area (Ninh Thuan, Vietnam). The turtle was about 60kg. Department of Quality Management and Fisheries Resources Protection of Ho Chi Minh city received this turtle from a local fisherman then handed it over to WAR. Mr. Le Xuan Lam, representative of WAR said it was the biggest turtle that WAR had ever received and the second one that WAR had released over the last 3 months.

ATP NOTE: As seen from the pictures, the turtle appears to be a Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas).

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

4. The USA: Pollution suspected in tumour disease that kills Indian River Lagoon sea turtles
SOURCE: – DATE: 11th May 2016

Half of the Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) assessed in the Indian River Lagoon (Florida, the USA) for decades have the disease, which can kill them if it impedes their ability to see and eat. The ugly tumours sprout around sea turtles' eyes and mouths, sometimes as big as a grapefruit or a football. It’s called fibropapillomatosis, FP for short, and although it's been studied by scientists for nearly 80 years, a full understanding of its cause has eluded them.

A major suspect, however, is polluted lagoon environments where marine turtles spend part of their lives. That's because the disease hardly ever has been observed in turtles at sea, even in near-coastal waters. But it is endemic in degraded tropical and subtropical estuaries and lagoons worldwide, including much of the Florida Peninsula.

Link to this web article online (English)

tumor in green sea turtle

© The Turtle Hospital

Galapagos tortoise

© S. Furrer

Galapagos tortoise

© S. Furrer

5. Switzerland: Giant Galapagos Tortoise, 80, Has 9 Hatchlings at Zurich Zoo
SOURCE: – DATE: 12th May 2016

A Swiss senior citizen may have just become the world's oldest mother at the age of 80.

Giant Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra) Nigrita laid nine eggs that hatched at the Zurich Zoo (Zurich, Switzerland). The 220-pound (100kg) creature's little arrivals each weigh between 4 and 5 ounces (113-142grams).

Over the course of the years, the Zurich attraction has sent Nigrita's baby tortoises to more than two dozen other zoos. Zurich Zoo says it is the only institution in Europe to have successfully bred Galapagos tortoises in captivity.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

6. India: Malad resident nabbed while trying to sell protected tortoise
SOURCE: – DATE: 13th May 2016

Despite continuous efforts to create awareness that selling or keeping of star tortoises is illegal, the authorities are finding it challenging to stop the trade of the Schedule-IV species. Recently, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Western Region, managed to nab a Malad (Mumbai, India) resident red-handed while he was trying to sell six live Star Tortoises (Geochelone elegans).

Link to this web article online (English)

confiscation of Star Tortoises



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