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No. 80, 17th May 2013

1. How poachers stole 10 percent of an entire tortoise species

SOURCE: Scientific American
DATE: 8th May 2013

On Friday, 15th of March, authorities in Thailand intercepted two wildlife smugglers trying to carry hundreds of endangered tortoises through Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Among the animals recovered were 54 critically endangered ploughshare tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora) from Madagascar. The entire wild population for this species is estimated at just 400 to 600 tortoises, meaning this seizure represented something in the neighborhood of 10 percent of the entire species. The news of the seizure made headlines around the world, but what has not been widely reported until now is that within a few weeks of the rescue nearly half of the tortoises had died, a terrible blow toward efforts to keep this species from extinction. The remaining tortoises, which were destined for the illegal pet trade in Thailand and China before their rescue, are currently in a Thai wildlife rescue centre while international organizations see what they can do to help keep the rest alive and healthy, or even eventually return them to Madagascar.

Link to this web article online (English)

© Scientific American

2. Quang Ninh, Vietnam: 93 live turtles found on coach

SOURCE: – DATE: 12th May, 2013

Early in the morning of the 12th of May, when patrolling on the National Highway 18A (Ha Long City), officers of the traffic police department of Quang Ninh province discovered a coach which was transporting 93 live big-headed turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) from an unknown origin, this species is listed as fully protected under Vietnam national wildlife protection law Decree 32/2006/ND-CP. The turtles were all transferred to the Forest Protection Department (FPD) of Ha Long city, Quang Ninh province.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


Quang Tri, Vietnam: Release of confiscated animals back to the wild

Follow up Bulletin No.77

SOURCE: Bao Hai Quan Online
DATE: 29th April 2013

As previously reported, on the 25th of April, Lao Bao border gate customs and border officials in Quang Tri province successfully intercepted a group of people smuggling wild animals from Laos to Vietnam. Although the officers were not able to catch the smugglers, due to the difficult terrain, they found 124 kilograms of wild animals including pangolins, lizards, striped-neck leaf turtles (Cyclemys oldhamii), snakes, etc. in bags that were left behind. These animals were reported to have been released to Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve, Quang Tri province.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


Quang Ninh, Vietnam: 20-kg sea turtle was released back to the sea

DATE: 15th May 2013

On the 15th of May a 20kg Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) was released back to the sea after it was caught by a fisherman in Ha Long Bay. The fisherman had sold the turtle to a concerned local, Mr Le Van Hung, who reported the case to the authorities. As it turned out the turtle also had a tracking device attached to it, monitoring its movement, and Mr Hung was happy to personally release the animal back into freedom.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© Đội Kiểm soát Hải quan cung cấp


5. Quang Ngai, Vietnam: Release of an illegally transported sea turtle

SOURCE: Tuoi Tre Online – DATE: 9th May 2013

According to the Aquatic Resources Protection and Exploitation Department of Quang Ngai province, on the morning of the 9th of May, officers intercepted an illegal transport of sea turtles to Ly Son Island. On the ship they found among many other sea turtles a 60-kg Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) which was kept in a cargo box. This particular animal was released back to sea in the afternoon of the same day. ATP NOTE: No further information available on the other marine turtles seen in the photo of the article.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© Phạm Văn

Singapore: National Park Board launches ‘Operation No Release' in preparation for Vesak Day

SOURCE: Today online news;
DATE: 17th May 2013

The National Parks Board (NParks) has said that there have not been any cases of animals being released at reservoir parks and nature reserves in the past two years, and the board would like to keep that record going. With Vesak Day falling on the 24th of May this year, the board is reminding the public to not release animals in the parks during this Buddhist festival. Some Buddhists observe the practice of releasing animals such as birds and turtles into the wild on Vesak Day as a mark of kindness recalling Buddha's teaching of universal compassion. “We will continue to reach out to the community, and appeal to the public not to release animals into the wild,” said NParks Director of Conservation, Mr Wong Tuan Wah. Most of these animals are kept as household pets, and many die shortly after their release as they are unable to adapt to the new surroundings.” NParks is running its annual campaign “Operation No Release” held around Vesak Day to spread awareness of the dangers related to animal release.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)


UK: Britain's oldest tortoise dies after rat attack

SOURCE: Express; Daily Mail
DATE: 15th May 2013

A seemingly indestructible tortoise, who survived two world wars and lived through the reigns of six British monarchs, has died aged 130 – after being bitten by a rat. Thomas, the oldest tortoise in Britain, had to be put down after being attacked by the rodent in the garden of his owner's home in Guernsey. Born when Gladstone was Prime Minister, at first it looked as though the lettuce-loving tortoise would recover from his injury. He spent five days on a course of strong antibiotics, being fed through a tube. But the wound became so infected that his owner, June Le Gallez, had no choice but to have him put to sleep. “We are very upset, ­distraught actually,” she said last night. “Thomas was like a member of the family.” Mrs Le Gallez, 54, inherited Thomas 35 years ago from her late cousin Grace Hilditch. She had been given the tortoise in 1922 as a present from her father Harry, who was friends with a London Zoo reptile keeper. Thomas lived through the Blitz with Grace at her home in Ilford, Essex, but it was bombed by the Nazis in 1945. He was rescued from the rubble by an air raid warden. For most of his incredibly long life, the tortoise hid a dark secret under his shell – he was actually a female. It was only when Mrs Le Gallez became his owner in 1978 that a vet discovered the staggering truth, nearly a century after Thomas was born.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)


© Express

8. Cornwall, UK: “Incredibly aggressive” terrapin grabs diver in Looe estuary

SOURCE: BBC News – DATE: 11th May 2013

A diver found a "very aggressive" turtle native to America (ATP Note: photo shows a red-eared slider - Trachemys scripta elegans) attached to his upper leg when he was coming out of a Cornish estuary, the Newquay's Blue Reef Aquarium reports. The man had been diving in the Looe estuary last week when he found the red-eared turtle on his limb. It was later offered a permanent home at the aquarium. Blue Reef curator Paul Strachan believes it had been dumped in the water a few days previously. Mr Strachan said people often bought the "cute little creatures", not realising they would grow. Although native to North America, it is thought many were bought for children in Britain obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series in the 1980s and 90s. Mr Strachan added "many of the country's waterways have become dumping grounds for terrapins. That is posing a potential threat to native species of wildlife, which simply can't cope with sharing their habitat with these aggressive invaders."

Link to this web article online (English)

© Blue Reef Aquarium

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