International Turtle Conservation Group Receives $100,000 Grant; Grant will Help Prevent Extinction of Critically Endangered Asian Turtles

5/10/2005

FORT WORTH, Texas, May 10 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) recently received a $100,000 grant from The Batchelor Foundation, allowing the conservation organization to vastly expand its work and prevent the extinction of some of the most critically endangered turtles in Southeast Asia.

Home to more than 90 species of chelonians (tortoises, turtles and terrapins), Southeast Asia supports the most diverse turtle fauna in the world. However, due to rampant demand and uncontrolled harvesting pressures driven by Chinese food markets, half (45) of those species are now ranked either endangered or critically endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List.

"Several species are dangerously close to extinction and may fade from the earth unless urgent intervention measures are effectively taken," said TSA Co-chair Rick Hudson. "The grant will fund conservation action for 10 of the 18 species ranked critically endangered and continue TSA's involvement in four of the world's major turtle diversity hotspots including Myanmar (formerly Burma), India, Vietnam and Indonesia."

The nonprofit TSA is an IUCN partnership network for sustainable captive management of freshwater turtles and tortoises with the mission of "preserving options for the recovery of wild populations." Recognized as a task force of the IUCN's Species Survival Commission, the TSA is a global organization based in Fort Worth, Texas, with major supporting chapters in the U.S. and Europe. Organized in 2001 in response to the Asian turtle crisis, the TSA emphasizes conservation work in the turtles' range countries as the most effective method of saving turtles.

"We identify existing facilities and programs that already have some infrastructure for turtle conservation and work to strengthen them," Hudson said. "Through husbandry and veterinary training workshops, facility improvements, and providing technical and logistical support, the TSA is well-positioned to make a serious impact on turtle conservation in the countries where they occur," Hudson said.

The TSA is best known for staging the largest turtle rescue event in history after nearly 7,500 sick and injured chelonians were confiscated in Hong Kong in December 2001. The group rehabilitated and placed more than 4,000 of these in assurance colony collections in the U.S. and Europe.

The Batchelor Foundation, Inc. was founded by the late Miami aviation pioneer George E. Batchelor, whose prominent career in the aviation industry as well as his entrepreneurial accomplishments have made him a legend in South Florida. His longstanding support of charitable causes benefiting children and the natural environment distinguished him as one of the area's most notable philanthropists.

Contact: Rick Hudson of the Turtle Survival Alliance, 817-759-7177