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Blog | Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA)
  Updated Sat, 19 May 2018 13:42:24 +0000
Description The Turtle Survival Alliance is a global partnership of individuals, zoos, aquariums, biologists and researchers who have joined together to help conserve threatened and endangered tortoise and turtle species.
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Saving the Next Generation
Category Blog
Published: Tue, 15 May 2018 00:00:00 +0000
Description:

May 6, 2018

 Saving the Next Generation!

Ifaty, Madagascar—Wild-caught juvenile Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) are highly prized by wildlife traffickers for the international pet trade. Their small size not only makes them easily transportable in large quantities, but also more easily dismissible in international markets as captive-bred. There are no known captive-breeding operations of Radiated Tortoise in Madagascar as the species is classified as Annexe 1 (Endangered) in thecountry.

The teams in Ifaty, Madagascar are currently caring for many hundreds of tortoises of this size-class—seized from smugglers alongside thousands of other juvenile, sub adult, and adult Radiated Tortoises on April 10, 2018.

To decrease stress on the small animals and minimize competition from tortoises of larger size-classes, the young animals are separated into multiple enclosures of like-sized individuals. Special care is also taken to ensure these small animals stay appropriately hydrated.

Despite being only a few inches in carapace length, the tortoises may take multiple growing seasons to reach this body size. The young (roughly the size of a golf ball) typically hatch just prior to the rainy season (late December—late April) in southern Madagascar. During this season, water and new, edible vegetation may be in greater abundance. However, the “rainy season” may still offer little rainfall—raining only one to two days per month, or sometimes not at all.

Because of these climatic conditions and correlated food availability, the tortoises’ growth rate is slow, with sexual maturity not being reached for up to 20 years or more. It is extremely important to not only protect the large, reproductively viable adults in the wild, but all stages of growth of the younger generations. The long-term viability of the wild population depends on them!

Photo Credit: Jordan Gray

 SavingNextGeneration 1

 

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Support from the global conservation community has been incredible, and we are extremely thankful for the multitude of individuals and organizations that have begun pouring in donations and supplies. The fight to save these tortoises will not be easy and will not be quick. We expect to send multiple teams to Madagascar over the coming weeks and months to assist in the effort. And we will continue to need your support! We humbly ask that you make a donation to save the lives of these beautiful, charismatic, and critically endangered tortoises.

 

Please DONATE TODAY to save these tortoises, and assist with the largest tortoise rescue effort in our history! 

Additionally, if you are a zoological institution, private practice, husbandry technician, or additional support personnel interested in assisting, please contact Andrew Walde, Chief Operations Officer, directly at awalde@turtlesurvival.org.

Photo credit: Marin Ade Lenurb

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"Salama" Team Radiata 2!
Category Blog
Published: Thu, 10 May 2018 00:00:00 +0000
Description:

May 9, 2018

 

Just as quickly as we said goodbye to most of “Team Radiata 1,” we have said “hello” or “salama” to a new group of amazing wildlife warriors in Ifaty, Madagascar! “Team Radiata 2” arrived from the United States over the weekend and beginning of this week, and again consists of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, husbandry specialists, construction specialists, communications specialists, and additional support personnel. These passionate recruits for the mission at hand represent the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), San Diego Zoo (SDZG), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Shedd Aquarium (SA), Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), TURTLE and TORTOISE PRESERVATION GROUP (TTPG), as well as private businesses, students, and citizen scientists. We are excited for the new ideas, specialties, and enthusiasm that they bring!

To ensure the nearly 10,000 Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) being held at the SOPTOM-CRCC “Village des Tortues” and the TSA’s Itampolo facility continued to receive high-quality care throughout the transition, the TSA administrative staff in the U.S., TSA-Madagascar staff, and our partnering organizations such as the The Association of Zoos and Aquariums and their member institutions, the WCS, and other NGO’s, have worked tirelessly to properly schedule personnel including flight arrangements, accommodations, and work coverage. And, this effort has all continued to be supported by the countless amazing donors from around the world! So to all of those who have provided this operation with unfaltering support, thank you very much or “Misaotra betsaka!” Because of you, these Radiated Tortoises have another chance of life in Madagascar!

 Team2

Pictured Left to Right:

Back row: Dr. Matt O’Connor (SA), Thomas Muller (SOPTOM-CRCC), Lisa Skibsted (private), Dr. Matt Marinkovich (SDZG), Christel Griffioen (ACCB)

Middle row: Dr. Bonnie Raphael (private), Doris Dimmitt (private), Rachel Walton (SDZG), Tsito Rehoahy (TSA), Jordan Gray (TSA)

Front row: Heather Alford (SDZG), Jessica Chin (WCS), Michael Skibsted (TSA-NAFTRG)

Not pictured: Nathan Haislip (TSA), Brett Baldwin (SDZG), Kelvin Alvarez (WCS), Jay Allen (private), Pete Koplos (TTPG), Ny Aina Tiana Rakotoarisoa (TSA), Herilala Randriamahazo (TSA), Tiana (driver)

Support from the global conservation community has been incredible, and we are extremely thankful for the multitude of individuals and organizations that have begun pouring in donations and supplies. The fight to save these tortoises will not be easy and will not be quick. We expect to send multiple teams to Madagascar over the coming weeks and months to assist in the effort. And we will continue to need your support! We humbly ask that you make a donation to save the lives of these beautiful, charismatic, and critically endangered tortoises.

Please DONATE TODAY to save these tortoises, and assist with the largest tortoise rescue effort in our history! 

Additionally, if you are a zoological institution, private practice, husbandry technician, or additional support personnel interested in assisting, please contact Andrew Walde, Chief Operations Officer, directly at awalde@turtlesurvival.org.

Photo credit: Marin Ade Lenurb

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Farewell! Au revoir! Veloma!
Category Blog
Published: Tue, 08 May 2018 00:00:00 +0000
Description:

May 7, 2018


This past weekend, most of “Team Radiata 1” said goodbye to Madagascar and the nearly 10,000 Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) for which they had spent the better part of two weeks caring for. This amazing team of wildlife warriors was the first of several teams scheduled to depart the United States to provide a relief effort for the thousands of tortoises seized from wildlife traffickers on April 10, 2018.

The team, which was rapidly organized following the seizure, composed of staff members of the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Dallas Zoo (DZ), Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden (OCZ), San Diego Zoo (SDZG), Utah's Hogle Zoo (UHZ), and Zoo Knoxville (ZK), as well as private veterinary and medical consultants.

Departing the U.S. on April 20th, the team descended upon the small coastal town of Ifaty and the “Villages des Tortues” where the tortoises are being temporarily held. There, they joined staff members of TSA-Madagascar, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT), and SOPTOM-CRCC, chelonian intern Thomas Muller, and local volunteers, who had begun caring for the tortoises immediately following the seizure. The team was later joined by members of fellow chelonian conservation organizations the Turtle Conservancy (TC) and SOPTOM-CRCC on April 27th.

This profound experience will not only leave an indelible mark on those who participated, but also a long-lasting resonance for the conservation of the critically endangered Radiated Tortoise in Madagascar. The turtle and tortoise community and conservation community as a whole owes these incredible people and their representative organizations an enormous thanks, or “saotra,” as is said in Madagascar!

Stay tuned to meet “Team Radiata 2” who joins Dr. Bonnie Raphael, Jordan Gray, Heather Alford, Tsito, and Dr. Ny Aina Tiana Rakotoarisoa in Ifaty!

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Pictured Left to Right:

Back row: Jorge Chavez (DZ), Nathanael Stanek (TC), Ihsann Sebro (private), Jordan Gray (TSA), Josh Lucas (OCZ), Chris Sleater (UHZ), Dr. Ken Conley (WCS)

Middle row: Dr. Bonnie Raphael (private), Stephen Nelson (ZK), Lisa Eidlin (WCS)

Front row: Anibal Armendaris (WCS), Dr. Susie Bartlett (WCS), Dr. Ny Aina Tiana Rakotoarisoa (TSA), Heather Alford (SDZG), and Dr. Laurie Goldstein (private)

Not pictured: Clinton Doak (TSA) Photo Credit: Garth Cripps

Support from the global conservation community has been incredible, and we are extremely thankful for the multitude of individuals and organizations that have begun pouring in donations and supplies. The fight to save these tortoises will not be easy and will not be quick. We expect to send multiple teams to Madagascar over the coming weeks and months to assist in the effort. And we will continue to need your support! We humbly ask that you make a donation to save the lives of these beautiful, charismatic, and critically endangered tortoises.

Please DONATE TODAY to save these tortoises, and assist with the largest tortoise rescue effort in our history! 

Additionally, if you are a zoological institution, private practice, husbandry technician, or additional support personnel interested in assisting, please contact Andrew Walde, Chief Operations Officer, directly at awalde@turtlesurvival.org.

Photo credit: Garth Cripps

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Madagascar May 4 2018
Category Blog
Published: Mon, 07 May 2018 00:00:00 +0000
Description:

People Make the Difference!


If humans are the problem for the tortoises and turtles of the earth, humans must also be the solution! As human-created pressures continue to mount for the well over 400 species and subspecies of tortoises and turtles on this planet, it takes incredible people to make a difference.

Here in Madagascar, many of those incredible people have answered the call to provide aid for the nearly 10,000 Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) seized from wildlife traffickers on April 10, 2018. From veterinarians to construction specialists; animal care technicians to transportation personnel, the people on the ground in Madagascar have come together with a singular mission: to save the lives of these tortoises and provide a continued future for them in their home country. With this mission in focus, the tireless efforts of these people have saved the lives of thousands of these iconic and critically endangered tortoises! Additionally, countless individuals and organizations have stepped up to provide monetary donations and in-kind giving. The hands-on aid and charitable contributions will directly support a better future for these tortoises in Madagascar!

 

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Support from the global conservation community has been incredible, and we are extremely thankful for the multitude of individuals and organizations that have begun pouring in donations and supplies. The fight to save these tortoises will not be easy and will not be quick. We expect to send multiple teams to Madagascar over the coming weeks and months to assist in the effort. And we will continue to need your support! We humbly ask that you make a donation to save the lives of these beautiful, charismatic, and critically endangered tortoises.

Please DONATE TODAY to save these tortoises, and assist with the largest tortoise rescue effort in our history! 

Additionally, if you are a zoological institution, private practice, husbandry technician, or additional support personnel interested in assisting, please contact Andrew Walde, Chief Operations Officer, directly at awalde@turtlesurvival.org.

Photo credits: Jordan Gray

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Update from Madagascar - April 24, 2018, Part 2 of 2
Category Blog
Published: Thu, 26 Apr 2018 18:52:35 +0000
Description:

Ifaty, Madagascar - Update from Madagascar - April 24, 2018, Part 2 of 2.

Immediately upon arrival, the over 1000 lbs. (484 kg) of medical supplies that were brought with our team from the United States were unpacked and organized so that the veterinary team could immediately begin evaluations and treatments for the hundreds of sick animals, many of them clinging onto life.

Likewise, the husbandry team set about with the crucial task of ensuring all of the tortoises throughout the forested enclosures received isolated freshwater soaks. This simultaneously allowed the tortoise to receive critically-needed hydration as well as allow the technicians to individually evaluate the tortoises. Any animals deemed in need of medical treatment were immediately delivered to the veterinary team, while deceased animals were taken to Ken Conley for necropsy.

In the forested enclosures, the husbandry team evaluated and provided hydration for nearly 4,000 tortoises, sending dozens of sick or underweight tortoises to the veterinarians, as well as numerous deceased animals to necropsy. Overall however, the team felt a large contingent of the tortoises were in relatively good condition considering the ordeal they have been through. This can be largely attributed to the incredible husbandry efforts by the small team of Villages des Tortues and TSA-Madagascar staff, and local volunteers.

In the clinic, the veterinary team evaluated and provided treatment for 542 tortoises, many of which were already under treatment from Drs. Rakotoarisoa (TSA) and Rasolozaka (DWCT). Due in part to the incredible efforts put forth over the past week by these two veterinarians, dozens of tortoises were deemed to be complete of their treatments and were transferred back to the forested enclosures.

Stay tuned for our next report from Ifaty!

To aid our team in the substantial rescue effort and the long-term rehabilitation and care for these critically endangered Radiated Tortoises DONATE TODAY!

Photo credits: Jordan Gray

#SavingSpecies

Dallas Zoo (DZ)Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden (OKCZ),Utah's Hogle Zoo (UHZ), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)Zoo Knoxville (ZN), Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust(DWCT)The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)

 Please DONATE TODAY to save these tortoises, and assist with the largest tortoise rescue effort in our history!

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 Additionally, if you are a zoological institution, private practice, husbandry technician, or additional support personnel interested in assisting, please contact Andrew Walde, Chief Operations Officer, directly at awalde@turtlesurvival.org.

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Update from Madagascar: 4/24/2018, Part 1 of 2
Category Blog
Published: Thu, 26 Apr 2018 17:23:36 +0000
Description:

Ifaty, Madagascar - Update from Madagascar - April 24, 2018, Part 1 of 2.

Yesterday, Monday, April 23, 2018 was the first day on-site for the team of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, husbandry specialists, pathologists, and communications specialists at SOPTOM-Villages des Tortues where the nearly 10,000 Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) seized in a historic smuggling bust on 10 April 2018 are being temporarily held.

Dubbed “Team Radiata,” the group is comprised of 15 professional wildlife warriors from various non-profit organizations, private practices, and Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited institutions including Lisa Eidlin, Ken Conley, Anibal Armendaris, and Susie Bartlett of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Josh Lucas of Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden (OKCZ), Jorge Chavez of Dallas Zoo (DZ), Chris Sleater of Utah's Hogle Zoo (UHZ), Stephen Nelson of Zoo Knoxville (ZN), Dr. Laurie Goldstein, Dr. Bonnie L Raphael, and Ihsann Sebro from private medical practice, Natacha Rasolozaka of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust(DWCT), and Clinton Doak, Jordan Gray , and Dr. Ny Aina Tiana Rakotoarisoa from Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA).

Nothing could prepare our team for the sight of forested enclosure after forested enclosure and on-site clinic filled with the thousands of Radiated Tortoises, ranging in size from 3-inch (8 cm) juveniles to hefty sub adults. All of the team members, many of them with significant experience with the species, both in the wild and in captivity, were in agreement that this was the most Radiated Tortoises they had ever seen—or will ever see—in their lifetime. End Part 1 of 2. To aid our team in the substantial rescue effort and the long-term rehabilitation and care for these critically endangered Radiated Tortoises DONATE TODAY! https://turtlesurvival.z2systems.com/…/turtle…/donation.jsp…

Please DONATE TODAY to save these tortoises, and assist with the largest tortoise rescue effort in our history!

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 Additionally, if you are a zoological institution, private practice, husbandry technician, or additional support personnel interested in assisting, please contact Andrew Walde, Chief Operations Officer, directly at awalde@turtlesurvival.org.

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Update 3 from Madagascar
Category Blog
Published: Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:02:32 +0000
Description:

Ifaty, Madagascar - TSA Madagascar is getting the job done as Team Radiata #1 nears arrival at Village des tortues. This, from Aina Tiana Rak-“Six local volunteers from different institutions joined us yesterday at Village des tortues. They helped to soak, build shelter houses, and distribute water for the tortoises!”!

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Helping hands for the Radiated Tortoises.

 

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Carrying water to keep the tortoised hydrated.

Support from the global conservation community has been incredible, and we are extremely thankful for the multitude of individuals and organizations that have begun pouring in donations and supplies. The fight to save these tortoises will not be easy and will not be quick. We expect to send multiple teams to Madagascar over the coming weeks and months to assist in the effort. And we will continue to need your support! We humbly ask that you make a donation to save the lives of these beautiful, charismatic, and critically endangered tortoises.

Please DONATE TODAY to save these tortoises, and assist with the largest tortoise rescue effort in our history!

 

 Additionally, if you are a zoological institution, private practice, husbandry technician, or additional support personnel interested in assisting, please contact Andrew Walde, Chief Operations Officer, directly at awalde@turtlesurvival.org.

  mehr...
Radiated Tortoise Press Release 2018
Category Blog
Published: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 11:16:20 +0000
Description:

TSA Logo CURRENT 2018 JPG

For Immediate Release

April 18, 2018

 

 

Turtle Survival Alliance Launches Rescue Mission to Nearly 11,000 Critically Endangered Radiated Tortoises Discovered in Massive Poaching Bust

Animal experts from AZA-accredited Zoos and Aquariums Dispatched to Madagascar to Conduct the Rescue

 

On Tuesday, April 10, more than 10,000 critically endangered Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) were discovered by local police in a non-descript private residence in Toliara, Madagascar. The floors of virtually every room in the house were covered with tortoises that had no access to food or water. As of Friday, April 13, hundreds had died from dehydration and illness. Experts from the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and several zoos and aquariums have been dispatched with medical supplies, and will administer medical care for the sick or injured tortoises and general animal care.

It is not known how long the tortoises have been in the home, some arrests have been made, the local police in partnership with Directeur Regional de l'Environment, de 'Ecologie et des Forets (DREEF), the conservation law enforcement authorities in Madagascar, continue their investigation. It is believed that the tortoises were collected for the illegal pet trade, possibly for shipment to Asia where the tortoises' highly-domed shell featuring a brilliant star pattern makes them highly prized. It is estimated that Radiated Tortoise populations in the wild have declined more than 80 percent in the last 30 years. At this rate of decline, it is estimated that the Radiated Tortoise could be functionally extinct in the wild in less than two decades.

Currently, triage efforts are being led by a five-member team from the Turtle Survival Alliance's (TSA) Madagascar staff, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and Villages des Tortues, who have been working non-stop after relocating the surviving tortoises 18 miles north at SOPTOM-Villages des Tortues, a 17-acre private wildlife facility in Ifaty. While there, each tortoise will receive initial in-processing, health evaluations, hydration and triage.

"I don't think the word overwhelming comes close to describing what the Turtle Survival Alliance is dealing with here," said Rick Hudson, President of the Turtle Survival Alliance. "We were already caring for 8,000 tortoises in Madagascar, now that number has more than doubled overnight."

Participating organizations accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) include Abilene Zoo, Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Society, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Dallas Zoo, Dickerson Park Zoo, Georgia Aquarium, Fort Worth Zoo, New England Aquarium, Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, San Diego Zoo Global, Shedd Aquarium, Tennessee Aquarium, Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center, Tulsa Zoo, Utah's Hogle Zoo, Zoo Knoxville, Zoo Atlanta. In addition to these AZA organizations, the TSA's efforts are being supported by global conservation partners Aktionsgemeinschaft Artenschutz (AGA) e. V., Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, ProWildlife v. E., SOPTOM-Village Des Tortues, Tanganyika Wildlife Park, and the Turtle & Tortoise Preservation Group and the Auckland Zoo in New Zealand plus a growing number of private donors.

"We are in 'an all hands on deck' mentality right now." said Hudson. "Fortunately, due to our strong relationship with the zoo community the TSA is well positioned to respond to crises such as this."

"The immediate response of more than 20 AZA-accredited facilities, offering their expertise and assistance to care for thousands of tortoises in Madagascar, is proof we will take whatever action is necessary to address illegal wildlife trade and other threats that put the world's most vulnerable species at risk of extinction." said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. "Through programs like SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction and the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, AZA and its members are engaging in critical, coordinated, and needed conservation work."

Given the scale of the rescue efforts, TSA expects to send additional teams of veterinary experts from the United States to Madagascar over the coming weeks and months.

"The support we continue to receive from the global conservation community has been incredible, and we are extremely thankful for the multitude of individuals and organizations that have come forward with donations and supplies." said Hudson. "Yet, the long-term financial impacts to our Madagascar program is potentially crippling."

Currently, the best way for the public to assist the TSA in their rescue efforts is to make a tax-deductible donation to the Turtle Survival Alliance Foundation, which can be made online at www.turtlesurvival.org/donate. Additionally, any zoological institution, private veterinary practice, husbandry technicians, or additional support personnel interested in assisting can contact Andrew Walde, Chief Operations Officer, directly at awalde@turtlesurvival.org.

 

About the Turtle Survival Alliance

MISSION: The Turtle Survival Alliance is transforming passion for turtles into effective conservation action through a global network of living collections and recovery programs. VISION: Zero turtle extinctions. To achieve our mission and vision, the Turtle Survival Alliance manages collaborative turtle conservation programs in 15 countries—critical to maintaining and restoring wild populations and preserving species through assurance colonies. Today, the TSA's programs positively impact the survival of 20 of the World's Top 25 Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles. Visit: www.turtlesurvival.org; http://www.facebook.com/TurtleSurvival; www.instagram.com/turtlesurvival. Follow: @turtlesurvival on Twitter.

About the Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.

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