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No. 51, 21st October 2012



1.  Singapore: Soft-shelled turtles urinate through mouth

SOURCE: - DATE: 11th October 2012

Researchers at the National University of Singapore recently discovered that Chinese soft-shell turtles (Pelodiscus sinensis) excrete waste urea through their mouths. The scientists were wondering why the turtles would immerse their heads in puddles when their swampy homes dry up. Why do these air-breathing turtles submerge their heads when they mainly depend on their lungs to breathe and are unlikely to breathe in water? To find out, the researchers purchased live turtles from a local market and kept them in water for six days. Only 6 percent of the urea—the main ingredient in animal urine besides water—produced by the turtles ended up in the urine from their hind ends. After the researchers removed the reptiles from the water but provided them with a puddle, the turtles dipped their heads and, using the water puddles as a mouth rinse, spat out 50 times more urea than was present in the mouth discharge.

The team also found that the turtles carry a gene that produces a specialized protein that helps expel urea. The gene was expressed in their mouths, not their kidneys. The reptiles live in brackish water, which makes the mouth pee a clever adaptation. If the turtles expelled their urea the traditional way—a process that requires a lot of water—they'd need more water to stay hydrated. Simply rinsing out the mouth without drinking any salty water helps keep the creatures stay healthy.

The scientists' research interest tends towards what humans can learn from the animal world to resolve biomedical problems. Pelodiscus sinensis , the only animal known to pee through its mouth could someday help humans who have suffered kidney failure.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)

Link 3 to this web article online (Vietnamese)


2. Lam Dong province, Vietnam: 17.5 kg soft-shell turtle rescued

SOURCE: - DATE: 15th October 2012

On the 15 th of October, 40 soft-shell turtles and a 17,5kg Asiatic soft-shell turtle (Amyda cartilaginea) were confiscated from Chung Hong 3 restaurant, a restaurant primarily selling soft-shell turtles, in Da Lat town (Lam Dong province, Vietnam). In an undercover inspection the restaurant was checked by 20 rangers and local policemen. The restaurant's employees failed to show any evidence that the soft-shell turtles were of legal origin, and refused to sign the fine ticket because the owner was absent. One employee said that the big Asiatic soft-shell turtle, which originally weighted 19 kg, had been purchased by the restaurant's owner to be displayed. However, the animal was kept in a box with a price tag for 690,000 VND/kg (~ $33.13/kg) All animals were seized and moved to the Mobile Forest protection department station for identification and treatment.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)


3. Bac Kan province, Vietnam: 200kg of snakes and turtles found

SOURCE: - DATE: 15th October 2012

The No.1 team of mobile rangers (Forest Ranger Department of Bac Kan province, Vietnam) and local policemen discovered 199 kg of snakes and 3 kg of turtles (unknown species) in a storage room of Mr. Ma Dinh Tuan. The team transferred the wildlife to the authority for further investigation.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


4. Melbourne, Florida (USA): Dilapidated boat will stay until sea turtles go

SOURCE: - DATE: 17th October 2012

A dilapidated boat has been sitting on Melbourne beach in Florida all month, but the county can't move it, because is sitting in the middle of a sea-turtle nests beach. Officials said they are concerned that bringing a large county truck onto the beach to move the boat or dismantling the boat could damage the nests. They said it will be hauled away as soon as the turtle nesting season wraps up in November.

Link to this web article online (English)


5. Vinh city, Nghe An province, Vietnam: 50 kg of wildlife seized

SOURCE: - DATE: 18th October 2012

On the 17th of October 2012, police and local Forest Protection Department (FPD) officers from Huong Son district (Ha Tinh province) pulled over a man who was transporting 50kg of turtles on his motorbike, driving on highway 8A through Son Bang commune heading for Vinh city (Nghe An province). The turtles were found in a big bag and were wrapped with adhesive tape. The shipment included Elongated tortoises (Indotestudo elongata), Impressed tortoises (Manouria impressa), Asian Leaf turtles (Cyclemys oldhamii) as well as one critically endangered Indochinese box turtle (Cuora galbinifrons) , one critically endangered Bourret's box turtle (Cuora bourreti) and two endangered Keeled box turtles (Cuora mouhotii) . The case was reported to Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) and to the staff of the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park (Ninh Binh province).

ATP note: On the 19th of October 2012 the Bourret's box turtle and the Keeled box turtles were transferred to the TCC.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)



6. Kingston, Jamaica: Activists say Cayman must stop farming sea turtles

SOURCE: - DATE: 18th October 2012

Wildlife activists urged the Cayman Islands on Thursday to permanently halt the farming of green sea turtles at a popular government-owned tourist attraction that has released thousands of juveniles into the sea and harvests some for meat. This triggered a dispute between the activists and the farm owner. The activist accused the farm for keeping the animals in poor conditions (overcrowded and dirty tanks) while the farm itself counter-argued with scientific papers supporting its conservational significance.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)



7. Vienna, Austria: Police officer detained at airport for smuggling 45 turtles in suitcase

SOURCE: - DATE: 18th October 2012

Austrian customs officers confiscated 45 endangered turtles at the Vienna-Schwechat airport on Wednesday, 17th October 2012. The 45 year-old Czech police officer, who attempted to smuggle the turtles in his suitcase, was on his way home from holidays in Hong Kong. The accused said that he took pity on the turtles when he bought them off a Chinese business man that he met during his travels. He further stated that he intended to resell the turtles in the Czech Republic and he wasn't aware that he was violating any law and how endangered the animals are. The man was arrested at the airport and is now facing charges for illegally transporting 2 critically endangered Southern Vietnamese Box turtles (Cuora picturata), 2 critically endangered Indochinese Box turtles (Cuora galbinifrons), a critically endangered Bourret's Box turtle (Cuora bourreti), 8 endangered Keeled Box turtles (Cuora mouhotii obsti), 7 endangered Four-eyed turtles (Sacalia quadriocellata), 8 endangered black-breasted leaf turtles (Geoemyda spengleri), 2 endangered wood turtles (Glyptemys insculpta), 5 Ornate box turtles (Terrapene ornate) and 10 Burmese flapshell turtles (Lissemys scutata). Except of the last 3 species listed here, all of the species occur in Vietnam with Cuora picturata , Cuora bourreti and Cuora mouhotii obstii being endemic to Vietnam.

All turtles were transferred to the Schönbrunn zoological garden. A spokesman from Schönbrunn said that the animals are very weak and dehydrated and the zoo's priority now is to rehabilitate the turtles which had obviously been in the trade for some while now. After their recovery the zoo will transfer the animals to conservation projects or species experts.

The spokesman also estimated that all turtles together have a market value of 15,000EUR – 20,000EUR (19,584USD - 26,113USD or 407,852,440VND- 543,803,254VND).

Link 1 to this web article online (German)

Link 2 to this web article online (German)



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