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Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

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Old 07-29-2011, 06:55 PM   #1
CynCD
Poachers nabbed with world's rarest tortoise

Police in Madagascar have arrested two men attempting to smuggle out nearly 200 threatened tortoises, including two dozen of the rarest species on Earth, a conservation group said Thursday.

The 26 specimens of Ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora) seized comprise about five percent of the estimated surviving wild population of the critically endangered animal, native to northern Madagascar.

Authorities found the live tortoises in a box and three bags on the tarmac at Antananarivo's Ivato Airport, according to TRAFFIC, which monitors illegal trade in wildlife.

The contraband was minutes from being loaded on a plane, and was destined -- after transfers in Nairobi and Dubai -- for Jakarta, Indonesia, police reportedly said.

"In the case of rare, high value species like these, they would certainly have been destined for the pet trade in Asia," Richard Thomas of TRAFFIC said of the Ploughshare tortoises.

Border police also found 169 Radiated tortoises (Asstrochelys radiata) and one Spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides), prized by collectors internationally.

All three species are classified as critically endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the benchmark reference for the conservation status of wildlife.

International trade in the species -- which are also protected under national law in Madagascar -- is illegal, but seizures are not uncommon in markets in Southeast Asia.

A recent investigation by TRAFFIC, which is funded jointly by the IUCN and WWF, found all three species in markets in Thailand, more than 150 specimens in all.

"Responsibility does not lie with Madagascar alone, but also with importing countries," said Chris Shepherd, TRAFFIC's regional deputy director for Souteast Asia.

"Authorities in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia should take firm and immediate action against those trading in these species and put an end to this illicit trade."

The wild population of Ploughshares, which grow to 40 centimetres (16 inches) and up to 10 kilos (22 pounds), has dwindled rapidly in recent decades, and is estimated at 440 to 700 individuals.

Historically eaten locally as a delicacy, its habitat has been drastically reduced by agricultural practices, especially the burning of fields. The main threat today is poaching for the illegal pet trade, according to the IUCN.

The species is now restricted to five small, isolated sub-populations, and could have as few as 200 remaining adults that can reproduce.


http://news.yahoo.com/poachers-nabbe...172651636.html
 
Old 07-29-2011, 11:40 PM   #2
Outcast
Now what they need to do, is start a captive breeding program for the pet trade. Then start selling them and using the proceeds to help conserve what little habitat those little guys have left. All but killing two birds with one stone. There will always be poachers and people burning land, but if the pet trade were included in the breeding of these guys, then maybe there would be more in the world, and we could save a species from extinction.
 
Old 07-31-2011, 06:16 PM   #3
ThomasHicks
Quote:
Originally Posted by Outcast View Post
Now what they need to do, is start a captive breeding program for the pet trade. Then start selling them and using the proceeds to help conserve what little habitat those little guys have left. All but killing two birds with one stone.
But how could one reasonably accomplish either one of those things?

A. No one in the pet trade would consider for a second donating the proceeds of their sales of anything. If that was the requirement for trading a certain turtle, no one would. That's true for any industry, and the pet trade really is an industry more than it is a hobby. B. Keeping people from using land in a fairly overpopulated country because some turtle lives there is going to be impossible.

The best thing we could do is let them use the land as they please [they will anyway] and let folks freely trade these animals in captivity. We'll at least ensure that these animals continue to exist somewhere. But trying to conserve land in Madagascar where 90% has already been deforested is just fighting the inevitable. Endangered species "protections" tend to actually work against adding more of the species they're intended to protect into existence.

Imagine how many Indigo snakes there would be in captivity right now if we could freely trade them without all of the hoops to jump through because they're endangered. Endangered species regulations tend to be ineffective for preserving their populations in the wild and extremely harmful for preserving their populations in captivity.
 
Old 07-31-2011, 07:37 PM   #4
snowgyre
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThomasHicks View Post
Endangered species regulations tend to be ineffective for preserving their populations in the wild and extremely harmful for preserving their populations in captivity.
I have to challenge you on this one.

For one, the Endangered Species Act of the United States is a fairly unique piece of legislation and should not (cannot) be compared to international endangered species legislation because international 'legislation' is all talk and very little bite. Outside of customs, it's virtually impossible to enforce any of those laws internationally.

Internally, the Endangered Species Act has done a lot of good. It forces the U.S. Government to take action (for better or for worse) for those species listed. That means that all "take", which includes hunting, illegal collecting, and even habitat destruction is highly regulated. This is not to say that the Feds are the most effective agency for dealing with endangered species management (this is currently a subject of great debate within the wildlife profession), but at the very least we have a legal course of action in place for those species.

Extinct in the wild means that the animal is no longer filling its ecological role. Survival in captivity means that we have failed. The U.S. Endangered Species Act is meant to prevent that. Granted, with critically endangered species some captive breeding is probably necessary, but by no means should we look down on endangered species legislation simply because it ties our hands to own these animals in private collections.

Personally, I have a LOT of problems with owning endangered species. It encourages illegal trade of those organisms and increases the risk of extinction, not ameliorate it. When you see an [eastern] indigo snake for sale for over $1000, how many people can look beyond the dollar signs of that snake that just so happens to crawl through their backyard? No harm done if you just take one animal from the wild, right? It's that kind of thinking that undoes your argument, and in second and third world countries where there is real starvation, you simply can't instill wildlife conservation values in those who are desperate to survive. We have become spoiled in the United States because we have relatively effective laws and law enforcement in place that we often don't see the fruits of our own labors and restraint. Survival in captivity isn't survival at all.
 
Old 07-31-2011, 11:09 PM   #5
ThomasHicks
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowgyre View Post
For one, the Endangered Species Act of the United States is a fairly unique piece of legislation and should not (cannot) be compared to international endangered species legislation because international 'legislation' is all talk and very little bite. Outside of customs, it's virtually impossible to enforce any of those laws internationally.
That's definitely true.

Quote:
Internally, the Endangered Species Act has done a lot of good. It forces the U.S. Government to take action (for better or for worse) for those species listed. That means that all "take", which includes hunting, illegal collecting, and even habitat destruction is highly regulated. This is not to say that the Feds are the most effective agency for dealing with endangered species management (this is currently a subject of great debate within the wildlife profession), but at the very least we have a legal course of action in place for those species.
Okay, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 has been in effect for 38 years [which is not to say that other conservation efforts have not taken place before it], in that time, how many species do you believe have benefitted [seen a substantial increse in population] from it? Of those, how would you attribute their population increases to their protection under the Endangered Species Act?

Quote:
Extinct in the wild means that the animal is no longer filling its ecological role. Survival in captivity means that we have failed. The U.S. Endangered Species Act is meant to prevent that. Granted, with critically endangered species some captive breeding is probably necessary, but by no means should we look down on endangered species legislation simply because it ties our hands to own these animals in private collections.
You are correct, from an ecological standpoint, extinct in the wild does equate to failure. But why let an animal go completely extinct? It's wishful thinking to believe that a third world country with a rapidly expanding population is going to take their native fauna into consideration when expanding into the little wilderness they have left. But here in America, we can take that fauna into consideration and preserve it where we can, in captivity.

Private collections tend to be much more effective than public facilities in producing stock. If we want more of these animals in existence, allowing everyone to trade these animals would undoubtably be our best bet. I'm not suggesting we should take more of them from the wild, people are already breeding them in captivity, just that we should be able to trade them freely in the U.S. That won't negatively impact wild populations at all, so why not?

Quote:
Personally, I have a LOT of problems with owning endangered species. It encourages illegal trade of those organisms and increases the risk of extinction, not ameliorate it. When you see an [eastern] indigo snake for sale for over $1000, how many people can look beyond the dollar signs of that snake that just so happens to crawl through their backyard? No harm done if you just take one animal from the wild, right? It's that kind of thinking that undoes your argument, and in second and third world countries where there is real starvation, you simply can't instill wildlife conservation values in those who are desperate to survive. We have become spoiled in the United States because we have relatively effective laws and law enforcement in place that we often don't see the fruits of our own labors and restraint. Survival in captivity isn't survival at all.
Eastern indigos are not going extinct because people collected them from the wild, they are going extinct due to habitat loss. Illegal collection isn't going to change that.
 

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