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No. 79, 10th May 2013

1. Warmer temperatures may turn turtles female

DATE: 3rd May 2013

The gender of a baby painted turtle is determined by the temperature of the soil in which its egg is incubated. Warmer temperatures produce female turtles and cooler temperatures make males. Scientists now say that as the climate warms, the species is not likely to survive. Scientists at Iowa State University studied the nesting behavior of the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta), the most abundant and widespread species of native turtle in North America. They wanted to see if a mother turtle could shift the timing of her egg-laying enough to impact the gender and survival of her eggs. By observing painted turtles in Illinois, the researchers found that a mother turtle can lay her eggs a few days earlier or later in the season to cope with changing environmental temperatures. For example, in a warm year she can nest earlier than usual. However the researchers say these behavioral changes aren't enough. Even with a temperature rise of one degree Celsius, the researchers found that 100 percent of painted turtles will be born female by the end of the 21st century. That's bad news considering that conservative climate change models predict a four-degree Celsius rise in temperatures over the next century. What's more, the model shows that turtle nests may not even make it this far: The warming temperatures will kill many eggs before they hatch.

Link to this web article online (English)

© Elliotte Rusty HaroldShutterstock

2. Madagascar: Tortoise trafficking reaching epidemic levels

SOURCE: Nature World News - DATE: 3rd May 2013

Illegal trading of endangered tortoises from Madagascar has soared in the past few years, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Since the beginning of the year, about 1,000 tortoises have been rescued from potential smugglers. Since 2009, poverty, political instability, along with infringement of people who don't follow the laws has accelerated the trafficking of tortoises. The WCS has urged authorities in Madagascar to protect these tortoises. The Society also said that public education along with strict regulation of tortoise trade in countries like Thailand can help conserve few of the remaining tortoise species.

Link to this web article online (English)

© wikimedia creative commons

One in five reptile species faces extinction

SOURCE: The Guardian;
DATE: 5th May 2013

Nearly one in five of the world's estimated 10,000 species of lizards, snakes, turtles, crocodiles and other reptiles are threatened with extinction, according to a study conducted by 200 experts. But the risk of extinction was found to be unevenly spread throughout the extremely diverse group of animals. According to the paper, an alarming 50% of all freshwater turtles are close to extinction, possibly because they are traded on international markets. The study, published by the Zoological Society of London in conjunction with the IUCN species survival commission, is the first of its kind summarising the global conservation status of reptiles, and used 1,500 randomly selected reptiles worldwide. Out of the estimated 19% of reptiles threatened with extinction, in order of magnitude of danger, 12% are classified as critically endangered, 41% endangered and 47% vulnerable.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

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4. Maryland, USA: Endangered northern map turtle thrives in Port Deposit, Maryland

DATE: 26th April 2013

The northern map turtle (Graptemys peographica) is a relatively large aquatic turtle that is native to North America. It is named for the lines on its shell, which resemble the contour lines on a map. The species is considered endangered in Maryland, Kansas, and Kentucky due to development, pollution and hunting but thrives in Port Deposit, a small town in Maryland adopted the turtle as its symbol and mascot. The town has received investment from the state and federal government and private funding, and it is making the turtle a center of economic development, through ecotourism. Furthermore, Port Deposit actively supports the research and conservation efforts of Richard Seigel, a professor of biology at Towson University in Maryland, who studies northern map turtles in the area. In an interview Richard Seigel praises the town of some 653 people, saying “in Port Deposit they have been our eyes and ears for watching what the turtle does and they have taken all sorts of voluntary measures. It has resulted in a large series of grants and contracts to improve the habitat within the town.”

Link to this web article online (English)

© Ruchira Somaweera/IUCN/ZSL


Vancouver, USA: Shell suit fashion: Pet owner knits colourful cosies for tortoise friends

SOURCE: Metro News;
DATE: 3rd May 2013

Animal-lover Katie Bradley, 36, has created a variety of crochet cosies to help her pampered pet tortoises stand out from the crowd. The woolly costumes are proving to be hugely popular with tortoise owners across the globe keen to kit out their four-legged friends in the must-have fashion items. ‘My first cosy started out as a fun little joke,' explained Katie, from Vancouver, US. 'I came across a picture of a tortoise with a doily on its shell, and had a good laugh. ‘I posted pictures on my tortoise blog and shared them on one of the tortoise forums, and very quickly, they became popular. ‘I started getting requests to make them to sell, so I listed some in my tortoise-themed Etsy shop. They started selling as fast as I could make them, so I just kept making more.' The mother-of-two spends about 40 minutes creating each suit and takes her yarn and crochet hooks with her wherever she goes.

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UN recognizes illegal timber and wildlife trade as serious crimes

SOURCE: Inter Press Service News Agency;
DATE: 6th May 2013

Environment groups are applauding a new United Nations (U.N.) decision to officially characterise international wildlife and timber trafficking as a serious organised crime, in a move that advocates say will finally give international law enforcement officials the tools necessary to counter spiking rates of poaching. Crimes related to the trafficking of flora and fauna are today one of the most significant money-makers for criminal networks, amounting to some 17 billion dollars (approx. 294 trillion VND) a year, according to some estimates. That would make this black market the fourth-largest transnational crime in the world, according to Global Financial Integrity, a Washington watchdog group. On Friday the 26 th of April, a new resolution on the issue was adopted almost unanimously at the end of a summit of the U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ, often called the U.N. Crime Commission). The resolution, put forward by the United States and Peru, now urges member states to formally view the illicit trade in wild flora or fauna as a “serious crime”.

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© caters-KatieBradley

© Lourens Schoeman

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