[wildtrade] Edit to previous post, please
jonathanmurray808 at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 5 20:17:50 BST 2009
Previous posting should be been posted as “World’s Rarest Tortoises Stolen From Conservation”. There is also an edit, the date”in 1996”. Apologies. Also am concerned about junk script.
Source – Wildlife News Digest
Dear All, 6 June 2009
In a sinister coincidence, the date of this theft, May 6 th, is the same as the earlier theft of 75 Ploughshare Tortoises from the Jersey Zoo/WWF breeding center, as it was then known in 1996. Thirty-five of those animals were recovered in Europe and returned to Madagasgar at the government’s request, and a number of people were prosecuted and jailed, including Anson Wong, of Penang, Malaysia. Now, much greater awarness, investigative and enforcement efforts are needed in the Asia – Pacific area to recover these animals and return them for conservation in Madagasgar. Hope everyone will assist, as the illegal trade situation with this species has been a critical, and ignored problem in China, Japan, and South East Asia for many years.
Four of the world’s rarest tortoises stolen from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
4 of the world's rarest tortoise, the Ploughsahre tortoise, have been stolen from the Durrell breeding dacility in Madagascar. © Gerardo Garcia / Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
Critically endangered Ploughshare tortoises stolen from breeding facility
June 2009. Thieves have stolen four of the world's rarest tortoises from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust's pre-release enclosures inside Baly Bay National Park, Madagascar. The theft took place during the night on the 6th May and comes as a major blow to the conservation of the Ploughshare tortoise, a species that is on the edge of extinction and classified as Critically Endangered. Conservationists believe the four tortoises are destined for private collections in Europe, USA or Asia unless they are found quickly.
The local law enforcement agencies and the nearby village in Baly Bay have been undertaking extensive enquiries to apprehend the culprits and find the missing animals, and arrests have been made.
44 tortoises released
Recently Durrell has released forty-four tortoises, however some of these were being held in quarantine enclosures for routine health checks. These enclosures were at a secret location and not accessible to the public. Eight animals were still being held after most of the checked animals had already been released a few days before. Four of these animals were stolen.
Baly Bay is an extremely poor region and traffickers pay local people to find the animals. However, the real problem lies with the buyers and the collectors who encourage the illegal trade in endangered animals with no thought for the conservation of the species. Durrell hopes law enforcement agencies in Madagascar and abroad will do more to clamp down on this global trade.
Critically endangered Ploughsahre tortoises have been stolen from a breeding facility in Madagascar. © Gerardo Garcia / Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
While attempts have been made by the Madagascan government to try to halt the smuggling, the recent political unrest in the country has enabled international dealers to increase their efforts to profit from Madagascar's natural heritage. A tough stance is needed both within Madagascar and in the countries where illegal animals are sold before another species is sent to extinction by the greed of the illegal trade of biodiversity.
Durrell's Conservation Manager, Andrew Terry, spoke out against the theft; "As with many other species around the world, greed is proving to be the major threat facing the ploughshare tortoise. The selfish desires of foreign collectors could in the end send this species to extinction. Durrell, the government of Madagascar and our partners are doing what we can to protect and restore the ploughshare, but if the international demand remains this high we will end up fighting a losing battle.
We have to work with local authorities to increase enforcement of the law within Madagascar, but equally we need to increase pressure on the collectors in Europe and Asia."
Ploughshare tortoises - Less than 500 in the wild
These animals were almost fully grown and, as tortoises mature very slowly, they had been raised for some time within Durrell's captive facility. The ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora - Angonoka in Malagasy) of North-western Madagascar is the largest of Madagascar's tortoises with adults reaching about 450cm in length. This rare tortoise is thought to number less than 500 adults in the wild and the entire wild population is found within the Baly Bay National Park. This has led to the species being classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN.
The major threats to the species are bush fires, in a region where it may not rain for the entire dry season between April and November, and the illegal pet trade. Due to the tortoise's rarity individuals can change hands for thousands of dollars.
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust has worked hard to protect this species for many years. The organisation manages a captive breeding programme, it works with village communities and government authorities to protect its habitat and undertakes research to understand its ecology and support its management. Since 2006, we have managed a reintroduction programme for the ploughshare inside the National Park.
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