Sep 29

Thirteen ocean creatures have surfaced all around Bristol’s BS5 postcode, snapped by some of the world’s very best wildlife photographers. To prove how turtle-y awesome they all are, we’ve created blogs on all of the featured species sharing ten epic facts about them! Sail your way around the exhibition by downloading your very own map and guide.

1) Sea turtles have been roaming the Earth for 110 million years, once sharing the planet with T-Rex and other dinosaurs!

2) Sea turtles migrate thousands of kilometres in their lifetime through the oceans and high seas. One female leatherback turtle travelled more than 19,000km across the Pacific Ocean, from Indonesia to the USA and back!

3) A baby turtle’s sex is determined mostly by the temperatures of the sand they’re buried in, below 30˚C is usually male; and above 30˚C is usually female.

4) Green sea turtles can hold their breath for up to five hours, but their feeding dives usually only last five minutes or less, before they come back to the surface for air.

5) Sea turtles can detect the Earth’s magnetic field and use it as a compass to navigate long distances. Who needs Google Maps when you have built-in sat-nav!

6) The Hawaiian green sea turtle, known locally as ‘Honu’, symbolises good luck, endurance and long life. Hawaiians believe turtles can show up as a person’s guardian spirit, known as Aumakua, to guide the way home.

7) Green turtles are named for the layer of green fat that lies under their shell. Scientists believe this unusual quirky-coloured fat is a result of their veggie diet.

8) Sea turtles are super-strong swimmers, they propel through the water using their strong paddle-like flippers. While these awesome animals like to cruise along at around 3km/h, they can reach speeds of 35km/h if threatened!

9) A turtle’s shell is actually part of its skeleton, which is made up of over 50 bones that include the turtle’s rib cage and spine.

10) These cold-blooded creatures become sexually mature at around 20-30 years old, but often die before they reach 50 years old due to predation and no pension scheme. They do; however, enter the property ladder quite early, with their shells forming within the first 30 days of life.

 

Jan 27

#LoveSpecies nominee: European pond turtle

Nominated by: Polish Society for Nature Conservation “Salamandra”

Why do you love it?

The European pond turtle, also known as the mud turtle, is the only natural representative of turtles in Poland. Nowadays it is one of the rarest reptile species in the country and its secretive behaviour makes it very difficult to spot in the field. Consequently, it is not well-known species to the general public. Those who have been lucky enough to observe it in natural conditions agree that it is one of the most beautiful turtles in the world.

What are the threats to the European pond turtle? 

The biggest threat to this species is degradation of its habitat due to humans (e.g. draining of the wetlands or agricultural activities on nesting sites). In the past European pond turtles were collected in a great numbers for food, especially around the Christian Lent celebrations when aquatic animals are traditionally consumed. Such an exploitation caused the local extinctions of many populations. Currently; however, one of the main drivers of this species’ decline is the illegal collection of European pond turtles to supply the pet trade. Luckily the scale of this collection is much smaller, but is still unsustainable. Other important threats include invasive turtle species (eg. red-eared sliders) which have been released to the wild by humans and compete with the European pond turtle for resources, such as food and basking sites, and are vectors of dangerous pathogens.

What are you doing to save it?

The Polish Society for Nature Conservation “Salamandra” is running a project focussed on the biggest population of European pond turtles in the Wielkopolska region in Poland. A telemetry survey was carried out to find out the nesting and hibernation areas and, on the basis of the collected data, conservation recommendations were created and are currently being implemented. The main problem in the area is the protection of nesting sites, which are based mostly on agricultural lands and therefore cooperation with local farmers plays a crucial role in this project.

VOTE NOW!

Jan 27

#LoveSpecies nominee: Palawan forest turtle

Nominated by: Katala Foundation

Why do you love it?

The Palawan forest turtle, also known as the Philippine pond turtle, is one of the rarest, most endangered, and least known turtles in the world. It is only found in five municipalities in Northern Palawan, Philippines and nowhere else in the world!

This species lives in small streams in lowland forests. The beautiful coloration of juveniles and the impressive bodies of adults are rarely seen because the species is extremely shy and nocturnal. At dusk they emerge from their dens and shelters to forage on aquatic invertebrates, plants and wild fruits that fall into the stream. The latter helps to regenerate the riverine habitat since most of the seeds germinate after passing through the digestive tract. Adults also feed on the invasive golden apple snail, an alien pest species, while juveniles take mosquito larvae. By doing so they help reduce agricultural pest species and invertebrate-borne diseases.

Though physically extremely tough, the species is susceptible to stress and has low fertility. They are not doing well in captivity and have never been successfully captive bred.

What are the threats to the Palawan forest turtle?

This species is facing a combination of threats. Being a lowland forest species, the species is more and more threatened by habitat destruction and conversion, mainly through slash-and-burn farming practices, timber cutting, agricultural encroachment, and quarrying. Like the other freshwater turtle species in the Philippines, S. leytensis is consumed locally as source of protein. Commercial exploitation for food and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) though is causing a more severe threat to the wild populations. Yet, the biggest threat to the Palawan Forest Turtle is its perceived rarity. Just months after its rediscovery was published in 2004, the species was available on the international pet markets of Europe, Japan, China and the USA. Since then prices remained high and are still at some $2,000 USD per individual.

In 2015, the species received the dubious honour of almost having been eradicated, when it was found in the largest ever made confiscation of a Critically Endangered freshwater turtle.

What are you doing to save it?

In 2007, KFI established quarantine, rescue and holding facilities at the Katala Institute for Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation in Narra, Palawan, where the only range assurance colony of Siebenrockiella leytensis is maintained.

In partnership with academic institutions and wildlife agencies on Palawan, Katala Foundation is leading public awareness campaigns that are designed to improve law enforcement against illegal wildlife trade. Likewise, KFI conducts scientific research on the management of Philippine freshwater turtles and their habitats, and educates and capacitates stakeholders on natural resource management and conservation, and restoration of the species’ habitats.

Distribution surveys and long-term studies on population trends, ecology, and life history of the Palawan forest turtle are also being undertaken by KFI since 2007.

KFI established the first protected area for a freshwater turtle in the Philippines in Dumarao, Roxas, Palawan in 2013. The expansion of the area into an adjacent lowland forest is currently being discussed.

Together with numerous helpers, KFI managed to rescue most of the 4,000 individuals that had been confiscated during what became known as the Palawan Forest Turtle Crisis in 2015. In total, 3,385 individuals were released back to the wild within the indigenous range of the species and KFI continues to monitor these sites today.

VOTE NOW!

Sep 30

Wildscreen recently worked with world-renowned street artist Louis Masai to create two beautiful murals in our hometown of Bristol, UK to mark the beginning of the Wildscreen Festival and raise awareness of two little-known endangered species. This painting event was part of Wildscreen’s Witness the Wild programme, a series of free-to-attend events from 21/09 – 28/10 in Bristol, celebrating wildlife art, photography and film.

Louis’ work mainly focusses on endangered species and he has painted everything from lovebirds to rhinos all over the world. As well as painting beautiful, realistic murals of animals, Louis has a trademark patchwork style which is the current focus of most of his work. Louis has a deep passion for the natural world that he expresses through his amazing artworks.

Pangolin

The first mural was painted on Stapleton Road in Easton, Bristol. As all of us in the Wildscreen office are extremely fond of pangolins, they seemed like the perfect choice for the first mural.

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The main threat to pangolins is the illegal wildlife trade. Their scales are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, based on the false assumption that they are a cure for numerous diseases and ailments, despite the fact that they are made out of keratin, the same material as human nails and hair, and rhino horn. Pangolins are also eaten as a delicacy in Vietnam and China, and their habitat is quickly declining due to unsustainable logging, mining and human development.

It turned out that the timing of this pangolin mural was impeccable as just a few days later, there was good news for pangolins everywhere as every species was upgraded to CITES Appendix I, effectively banning all international trade. This new legal framework should help to protect wild pangolin populations, but you can help further by sharing your pangolin knowledge and telling people what they are. Unfortunately, not very many people know about pangolins so read up on them on our new pangolin topic page and watch our pangolin film, made in conjunction with Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, and tell the world what you know!

Green turtle

Our second mural was painted on Mina Road in St Werburghs, Bristol. This mural featured a green turtle. Sea turtles are one of the most ancient animals in the world and are believed to have existed on our planet for over 100 million years.

Turtle

Sea turtles are extremely unfortunate in that they are threatened by pretty much everything. Climate change is one of the main threats to sea turtles – the increased carbon dioxide level in the Earth’s atmosphere is causing ocean acidification which is altering the sea’s ecosystems and food web and, as with most reptiles, increased incubation temperatures lead to more females being born, which is skewing the sex ratio and leading to less successful mating. Plastic pollution is a major threat to sea turtles as they frequently mistake plastic litter for food which can cause major health issues, and they are also negatively affected by chemical pollution and oil spills. Sea turtles are often hit by boat traffic when they surface to breathe, and their coastal nesting habitats are threatened by development. Sea turtles are unsustainably hunted in many parts of the world and their eggs are taken from their nests.

Read up on ocean acidification and marine plastics on our topic pages to see what you can do to help sea turtles and other marine species.

If you live in Bristol please go and visit the murals and share your pictures using #wildscreenfest.

Come to our free bicycle-powered film screenings and open air wildlife photography exhibition in Bristol – check out the programme.

Follow us on Instagram to see what we’re up to

Share this blog to tell your friends and family about the plight of these endangered species.

Check out Louis’ website to see more of his amazing work.

 

Hannah Mulvany, Wildscreen Exchange Executive

May 27

The Whitley Fund for Nature holds an annual ceremony where pioneering conservationists around the world are honoured with an award recognising their achievement and given £35,000 (US$50,350) to continue their projects. We were lucky enough to be invited along to the ceremony to meet the finalists and find out more about their work. Each day this week we will release an interview from each of the winners on the Arkive blog and our Youtube channel. ENJOY!

Juliette Velosoa – Saving the Critically Endangered side-necked turtle and its freshwater habitat

Juliette works in Madagascar for Durrell Wildlife Trust, saving the Critically Endangered side-necked turtle. The population of this ancient species has drastically decreased over recent years due to overexploitation and habitat loss. Since 1998 Juliette has been working to save the side-necked turtle, known in Madagascar as ‘rere’, by encouraging community-led resource management, nest protection and wetland restoration.

Find out more about Juliette’s work on the Whitley Awards website

Discover more about Durrell Wildlife Trust

Visit the Arkive profile of the side-necked turtle (also known as the Madagascar big-headed turtle)

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