July 19, 2023
SINGAPORE – Three critically endangered turtles rescued in Singapore finally made their way home to Malaysia on Tuesday.
They were part of efforts by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) to rescue, rehabilitate and repatriate wild animals nabbed by illegal traders for their meat or sold as pets.
The first was a Malaysian giant turtle found at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in December 2019. Named Jasmine by Acres, she had red markings on her shell, which suggested that she could have been a victim of the illegal wildlife trade.
Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, the Malaysian giant turtle was assessed in 2020 to be a critically endangered species due to declining populations.
The second turtle, a giant Asian pond turtle, was rescued by Acres in July 2020 from Chatsworth Drive, and named Genie. Found in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, the giant Asian pond turtle was also given the “critically endangered” status in 2021.
The Covid-19 situation and travel restrictions in 2020 and 2021 had “dampened any possibilities of repatriating Genie and Jasmine to Malaysia” then, Acres co-chief executive Anbarasi Boopal revealed.
The third turtle, a black marsh terrapin named Saleen, was found in an HDB estate in January 2022 and given up to the National Parks Board (NParks), which cared for and rehabilitated him.
The species is native to many parts of South-east Asia, and its status was uplisted in 2021 to endangered from vulnerable, on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
NParks group director of wildlife management Ryan Lee said: “NParks will continue to work with organisations such as Acres in our wildlife rescue and rehabilitation efforts, and raise awareness on the illegal wildlife trade to strengthen the protection and conservation of our native biodiversity and ecosystems.”
Mr Kalai Vanan Balakrishnan, also co-CEO of Acres, said the turtles will be handed over to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia, where they will undergo further rehabilitation before they are released in an undisclosed forest location.
“(They will) be monitored to ensure the animals are coping well in the forest,” he added.