Bulletin:  January 2007

Top Stories

Shanghai Rafetus swinhoei Death Spells Bad News for the World?s Most Critically Endangered Turtle ? December 2006
Another of the world?s last known living examples of the Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei)  is dead, according to reports from China.  The turtle was being kept in the Shanghai Zoo and died of unknown causes.  Three other living examples of Rafetus swinhoei remain in captivity in Suzhou at a Buddhist temple and zoo.  A fourth living turtle currently resides in Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam.  Conservation organizations are undertaking extensive surveys throughout the species natural ranger in Vietnam and southern China with hopes of finding remaining individuals in the wild.  The Chinese government plans to initiate a captive breeding program for the species, if feasible, utilizing the three animals currently in captivity.  In 2005, another Yangtze soft-shell turtle died at the Beijing Zoo. 

ATCN Note:  See WCS China workshop report for more details (below)

Mauremys annamensis recorded in natural habitat after 67 years ? December 2006
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo?s Asian Turtle Program (ATP) documented the first wild capture of a Vietnamese pond turtle, Mauremys annamensis, in 67 years.  The turtle was caught using a baited trap as part of a new project aimed at conserving this critically endangered and endemic species in the wild in central Vietnam. 

ATCN Note:  The last field record for this species was actually in 1939, not 1941 as reported in the story.  Moreover, if local hunter records were considered, there would be thousands of records since 1939, as the species is uncommon but present in the wildlife trade.

New Assurance Facility for Burmese Roofed Terrapins ? December 2006
An improved pond and new captive rearing center was officially opened at the Yadanabon Zoo in Mandalay (Myanmar) as part of efforts to secure an assurance population and develop a conservation breeding program for the critically endangered Burmese roofed terrapin, Kachuga trivittata.  Supported by the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), the new facility will house adults that are currently held by the zoo, and dozens of hatchlings from the 2006 and subsequent breeding seasons on the Chindwin River.  Plans to construct a hydroelectric dam on the Chindwin River is expected to severely impact the last known breeding wild population of this species.

New Discovery:  First Confirmation for the Big-headed Turtle in Cambodia ? September 2006
Herpetologists from Conservation International have confirmed the presence of Platysternon megacephalum in Cambodia with a first record for the species captured at Virachey National Park in northeastern Cambodia.  


Reports From the Frontl

TCC Breaks Ground on New Visitor Interpretation Center ? January 2007
In January 2007, contractors at the Turtle Conservation Center (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park finally broke ground on the development of a new visitor interpretation center that will help raise awareness about the need to protect Vietnam?s turtles amongst some of the park?s 90,000 annual visitors.  The new center will feature a range of information boards, underwater viewing tanks, and interpretive displays, such as the mock hunting camp and a habitat trail.  The park expects to complete the structure by March, and open the center for visitors by June 2007. 

Training of Environmental Educators to Help Protect Freshwater Turtles in Cambodia ? December 2006
An intensive training course on community-based awareness and environmental communication was hosted by Education for Nature ? Vietnam (ENV) for members of the Cambodian Turtle Conservation Team.  The training course was aimed at helping prepare the team for a Conservation International project in southern Cambodia that will begin in early 2007 focused on generating support and involvement from local communities in the protection of tortoises and freshwater turtles.

The Search for Rafetus swinhoei in Vietnam ? December 2006
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo?s Asian Turtle Program (ATP) continues the search for Rafetus swinhoei in northern Vietnam, shifting greater focus on communities along the Red River.  Efforts to find the turtle at sites in Thanh Hoa, Yen Bai, and Phu Tho provinces, where historic evidence suggests that the species survived as recently as ten years ago, have thus far resulted in negative findings   However, the ATP field team is pursuing promising leads at other sites. 

Hanoi Turtle Market Closed ? December 2006
A brief news summary on the success of efforts by the local NGO Education for Nature ? Vietnam (ENV) to close down Hanoi?s principal wildlife market, where Vietnam?s turtles have been sold illegally and openly for years.  https://asianturtlenetwork.org/library/ATCN_news/2006_articles/Dong_Xuan_Market_Shop_owners_Agree_Not_to_Sell_Wildlife.html

Focus on Turtles: First Field Skills Training Course in Cambodia ? November 2006
Conservation International, in cooperation with the BP-funded Turtle Conservation Team and the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) carried out a training course for students and young professionals from universities in Cambodia aimed at building local capacity and interest in turtle research.  Modeled after similar courses completed in Vietnam, this was the first major training initiative in Cambodia aimed specifically at building local capacity working with turtles.

Field Surveys in Northern Sulawesi (Indonesia) focus on two critically endangered endemic species - September 2006
A report by Steve Platt of WCS on the results of surveys carried out in July 2006 aimed at determining the status Indotestudo forsteni and Leucocephalon yuwonoi in northern Sulawesi.

New Resource to Help Identify and Promote Conservation of Turtles in Laos  - Sept.  2006
WWF Laos has completed a new set of educational resources aimed at promoting turtle conservation and helping identify turtles during surveys.  The materials include a poster of species native to Laos and a small identification book with information about each species.

The Chindwin River Kachuga trivittata Conservation Project - September 2006
A progress report by the WCS Myanmar Turtle Conservation Team on the Chindwin River Kachuga trivittata Conservation Project, September 2005- August 2006.  WCS has been carrying out a project focused on the protection of the critically endangered and endemic Burmese roofed terrapin, Kachuga trivittata, on the upper Chindwin River since February 2005. The Chindwin River population of Burmese roofed terrapins is the only known breeding population of the species remaining in Myanmar.

Action Plan for the Conservation of the Giant Yangtze Soft-shell ? September 2006
A draft report by the WCS China Program details the results of the September 2006 workshop aimed at developing a conservation strategy for the giant Yangtze soft-shell, Rafetus swinhoei.

A Glimpse of the Turtle Trade from a Different Perspective ? August. 2006
Education for Nature ? Vietnam (ENV) has released an English-language version of The Adventures of Lucky Turtle, a children?s book telling the story of a turtle in Vietnam, and his perilous adventure after being caught by hunters and sold into the wildlife trade.

Working with local communities in Cambodia to conserve turtles ? August 2006
A report by Sitha Som of the BP-supported Cambodian Turtle Conservation Team on their August training initiative in several villages within the Cardamom Mountains.  

New Cuora bourreti Project to Focus on Protected Area in Central Vietnam ? May 2006
A field team from the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) and Bristol Zoo completed a month-long survey for Cuora bourreti at Song Thanh Nature Reserve in central Vietnam.  The survey team identified keys sites in preparation for developing a field-based conservation project focused on the reserve.

Conservation of Sulawesi endemics, Leucocephalon yuwonoi and Indotestudo forstenii
A study of Sulwesi endemic species by Ian Ives.

Press Box

New Straits Times ? December 11, 2006
River Terrapins return to Dungun River in Malaysia
A news story on the efforts of Terengganu state wildlife protection authorities and KUSTEM University to recover a population of the critically endangered river terrapin, Batagur baska, on the Dungun River, Malaysia. 

IANS ? December 8, 2006
5,000 turtles rescued, two arrested in Bihar
A brief news story from the IANS on the seizure of 5,000 turtles from a vehicle in northeast Inda.  The specific species involved in the seizure were not identified.

German Press Agency ? December 4, 2006
2000 turtles and other wildlife confiscated in Malaysia
A brief news story about a large confiscation of wildlife in Malaysia that included 2,000 tortoises (species unknown).   

Hindustan Times ? November 24, 2006
430 Turtles Found in Flier?s Baggage
A news article on another seizure of Indian star tortoises from a passenger bound for Malaysia.

Vietnam ? November 2006
Turtles Released at Cat Tien National Park
Wildlife protection officers released 35 turtles and four monitor lizards at Cat Tien National Park in southern Vietnam.  It was the first release from the newly established Cu Chi Rescue Center of the Ho Chi Minh Forest Protection Department, and supported by the NGO, Wildlife at Risk (WAR). 

The Hindu ? October 31, 2006
Collector of Star Tortoise Held
A news article carried in The Hindu on the arrest of a star tortoise trader in India

The Star ? November 7, 2006 (Malaysia)
Rare Terrapin Carcass Found
A news article from the Malaysian Star on a large Pelochelys cantorii found along the banks of Terengganu River.

ATCN ? October 23, 2006
Quang Nam Bust Nets Turtles and Traders (Vietnam)
A brief news summary on a trade seizure in Quang Nam Province involving more than 100 turtles representing seven native species, monitor lizards, and snakes.

BBC ? October 2006
Malaysian turtle egg plan ?crazy?
An article from the BBC on a new plan by Malaysian authorities to license the harvesting of marine turtle eggs in Terengganu.

Online Star ? October 21, 2006
Ten Freshwater Turtles Seized (Malaysia)
A news story on the seizure of soft-shell turtles in Sarawak, Malaysia

Jakarta Post ? October 14, 2006
516 pig-nosed turtles released back to their natural habitat
A news article on the release of pig-nosed turtles (Caretochelys insculpta) that were confiscated in Indonesia in 2003.

New Straits Times - September 15, 2006
Smuggler found with 1,460 Indian star tortoises
A news article on a seizure by Indian customs officials of Indian star tortoises being smuggled to Malaysia.

Associated Press ? September 6, 2006
Man arrested in Thailand for alleged smuggling of tortoises
A Madagascar man was arrested for smuggling 15 radiated tortoises into Thailand.

The Standard ? August 10, 2006
228 tortoises intercepted at airport
Kenyan authorities confiscated 228 leopard tortoises being smuggled from Uganda to Thailand. 

TRAFFIC ? July 3, 2006
Illegal turtle shipment seized in Singapore
TRAFFIC reports that 630 Amyda cartilaginea were confiscated in Singapore where the turtles were destined for local food markets.

Field Notes (small things of interest)

New Enclosure Expands Captive Holding Capacity for the Endangered Keeled Box Turtle, Cuora mouhotii ? September 2006
In a first for the Turtle Conservation Center (TCC) at Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has funded the expansion of holding facilities for the endangered keeled box turtle, Cuora mouhotii.  The keeled box turtle is one of five priority species for conservation breeding at the center, and a native of the park.

First Captive Born Black-breasted Leaf Turtle, Geoemyda spengleri, at the Cuc Phuong Turtle Conservation Center ? July 2006
In July, the TCC succeeded with the center?s first captive birth of a black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda spengleri

Library:  Published articles and reports

Biological Observations on the Asian Soft-shell Turtle in Sarawak, Malaysia - 2006
A paper that was published in Testudo Vol. 6 No. 3 (2006) by Karen Jensen and Indaneil Das on a study of Amyda cartilaginea in Sarawak, Malaysia. 

Captive Breeding of Chelonians in Hainan Province, China
An article in Reptilia Magazine on the results of a November 2004 survey of turtle breeding farms in Hainan.  Hainan farms are churning out tens of thousands of native and non-native species to supply markets.  Production from the farms included some 25 million Pelodiscus sinensis annually, as well as hundreds of thousands of Chinemys reevsii and Ocadia sinensis, and thousands of Mauremys mutica and Palea steindachneri.

Recent hybrid origin of three rare Chinese turtles - 2006
A recent publication by Stuart and Parham in Conservation Genetics on three suspected hybrid turtles species from China;Ocadia glyphistoma, Ocadia philippeni, and Sacalia pseudocellata.

Ticks:  Vectors for Disease Transmission in Turtles? - 2006
A paper published in the Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington ?2006 summarizing the findings of a study on host-parasite relationships between ticks and turtles carried out at Cuc Phuong National Park.

Turtles in Crisis? Perth Zoo ? Winter 2006
An article in Newspaws, the Perth Zoo newsletter, on the Asian turtle crisis featuring some of the efforts of the Turtle Conservation Center at Cuc Phuong National Park.

Special Report on Vietnam Turtle Diets ? November 2006
The published results of a study examining the captive diet of turtles maintained at the Cuc Phuong Turtle Conservation Center in Vietnam.  Facilitated by the WCS Wildlife Health Sciences Division and Baer and Associates, LCC. 


Marking Turtles for Long Term Studies in the Field ? January 2007
A diagram and directions for marking of turtles using notching by Kurt Buhlmann of the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL)

Identification of Rafetus swinhoei and other Asian soft-shells ? September 2006
An excellent reference for the identification of Rafetus swinhoei and other Asian soft-shell turtle species.  Produced by John Thorbjarnarson and the WCS China team.  Includes photos of soft-shell turtle species.  https://asianturtlenetwork.org/library/useful_resources/Rafetus_swinhoei_ID_sheet.pdf

Other website developments

Check out the Asian Turtle Network Photo Gallery for a visual tour of regional conservation developments and some interesting photos of turtles!    asianturtlenetwork.org

Contact Us:
Douglas Hendrie
Asian Turtle Program
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
PO Box 222
Hanoi, Vietnam
Tele. 844-775-3935

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Asian Turtle Program
Website:  asianturtlenetwork.org

The Asian Turtle Conservation Network is supported by:
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Conservation International (CI)
Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA)
Education for Nature ? Vietnam (ENV)


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