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Study reveals extent of chelonian extinction crisis
Researchers created species richness lists for turtles in several regions of the world.
Researchers call for greater conservation efforts

More than 56 per cent of all known turtle and tortoise species are facing extinction, according to the first global review of chelonian species.

The paper, published in Chelonian Conservation and Biology, reveals that of the 360 recognised turtle and tortoise species, the risk of extinction is highest for Asian turtles. This is despite there being a rich diversity of species in the region.

Researchers also found that Asian freshwater and semi-terrestrial turtles of the Geoemydidae family face the greatest risk compared to other Testudines species. Of the large vertebrate group, only primates have a higher percentage of threatened species.

“Turtles are in terrible trouble and we need to mobilize even greater international efforts to prevent many of them from slipping into extinction,” said researcher Anders G. J. Rhodin.

“As a response to this impending turtle extinction crisis, over the last few decades, we have seen the emergence of several turtle-focused NGOs [nongovernmental organisations] and the growth of an increasingly engaged international turtle conservation community. This article should continue to raise global awareness of the precarious conservation status of many of these animals.”

In the study, researchers from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) analysed official and provisional assessments of all recognised tortoise and freshwater turtles - around 360 species. The team looked at the current official IUCN Red List and a provisional list compiled by the IUCN specialist group to ensure a thorough analysis.

Researchers then created species richness lists for turtles in several regions of the world, calculating percentages of imperilled species and determining average threat levels for these species. They then compared their results with those for other threatened vertebrates.

It is hoped the assessment will help those undertaking research, designing conservation policies and launching strategic actions to help chelonian populations.

 

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Wales to ban third party puppy and kitten sales

News Story 1
 The Welsh Government has said it will ban third party sales of puppies and kittens, after a consultation showed overwhelming public support.

A consultation in February received nearly 500 responses, most of whom called for greater action to improve the welfare of cats and dogs at all breeding premises.

Concerns were also raised about online sales, impulse buying, breeder accountability and illegal puppy imports.

A consultation will now be held on plans to implement a ban. Environment minister Lesley Griffiths said she will also revisit the current breeding regulations to improve welfare conditions.  

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WHO declares Congo Ebola outbreak an international health emergency

The World Health Organisation has declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The move comes after a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for Ebola in the DRC. The committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma - a city of almost two million people on the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world.

The committee also reinforced the need to protect the livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open.