ad info




CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 ASIANOW
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 TIME INC. SITES:
 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast
 pagenet

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 WEB SERVICES:
 
NATURE

Half of world's turtles face extinction, scientists say

turtle
While the plight of sea turtles is fairly well known, very few people realize that many freshwater turtles and tortoises face an even more critical situation.  

August 27, 1999
Web posted at: 10:01 a.m. EDT (1401 GMT)

ENN



Nearly half of the world's turtle species face possible extinction, due in large part to the growing use of turtles as sources for food and medicinal ingredients, freshwater turtle experts attending an international conference concluded earlier this month.

While the plight of sea turtles is fairly well known, very few people realize that many freshwater turtles and tortoises face an even more critical situation. The causes are crystal clear, says Dr. Jeffrey Lovich, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey. "With freshwater turtles we know that it's over exploitation by humans, so we know it's manageable. The issue is, are people willing to stop killing turtles, especially in Southeast Asia."

The Southeast Asian trade is driven by an enormous and growing demand from China, where age-old traditions of consuming turtles for food and as medicine are growing dramatically with increased affluence and the recent convertibility of Chinese currency. Some of the most desired species cost as much as $1,000 in Southeast Asian markets.

"Although much of this is being done in the name of tradition, it now threatens the survival of a globally important group of animals. In light of the severity of the problem, this use of turtles should be stopped," said Mittermeier.

The already depleted turtle populations in Southeast Asian countries have been hit particularly hard.
turtles
The turtle decline seems first and foremost to be driven by human consumption.  

More and more frequently scientists have been finding turtles that are rarely seen in the wild in open markets and restaurants. Several Chinese species discovered in the last two decades may already be extinct. Vietnam, Bangladesh and Indonesia are exporting large numbers of turtles to China and this unsustainable trade now seems to be extending to other countries as well.

The United States, home to about 55 species of turtles representing approximately 20 percent of the world's total turtle diversity, exports more than 7 million turtles every year as pets or food products. Conference participants say that of the 55 species in the U.S., 25 species are in need of conservation action, and 21 species are protected, or are candidates for protection.

Conference participants outlined a series of measures to address the turtle survival crisis, calling for stricter enforcement of existing laws, an increase in import and export regulations governing international trade of freshwater turtles, and the establishment of captive breeding programs for some of the most endangered species. The scientists also want more dialogue among international researchers and policy makers, and recommended that non-governmental conservation organizations develop turtle conservation strategies.

"We are on the brink of losing a group of animals that has managed to survive the upheavals of the last 200 million years, including the great extinction episode that eliminated the dinosaurs," says Dr. Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservation International.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved



RELATED STORIES:
Thai doctor treats fish as pets, not protein
July 19, 1999
Loggerhead sea turtles go the distance
July 19, 1999
Farmers, scientists rally behind endangered turtle
July 8, 1999
Groups cite successes of Endangered Species Act
June 10, 1999

RELATED ENN STORIES:
Loggerhead sea turtles go the distance
Ultimatum issued to save sea turtles
Urban sprawl, traffic hazardous to turtles
Bog turtles gain protection under ESA
Students find 65 million-year-old turtle fossil
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


RELATED SITES:
Conservation International
IUCN - World Conservation Union
Sea Turtle Conservation Program
Year of the Ocean
USGS Western Ecological Research Center
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

 LATEST HEADLINES:
SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.