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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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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.