Turtles: Back to the Future!

News Brief by Kip Hansen – 11 September 2020

He just got a reprieve!  Sort of .  .  .    This is a  Burmese Roofed Turtle – thought to be extinct until it was re-discovered in 2002.    According to the Wiki:  “The female turtle grows significantly larger than the male and reaches sizes similar to that of a steering wheel; the males’ color transforms during breeding season in which their usually green heads turn a bright chartreuse-yellow with bold black markings”.   It lives in Myanmar (once known as Burma).   Almost all turtles are under some negative population pressures, but according to an article in the NY Times, especially “Asian species, which are pummeled by both habitat loss and high levels of hunting for food, medicine and the pet trade.”

The beleaguered Burmese Roofed Turtle has a distinct disadvantage – it is found only in Myanmar,  a very poor country – 25% of the population is officially poor, making less than US$ 1.20 per day.  Despite the numbers, this is an improvement. [ source – World Bank – 2017 report .pdf ]    In addition, because the female turtle grows to “sizes similar to that of a steering wheel” – she becomes a very tempting target for bush food hunters who nearly drove the species to extinction.

The Times reports:

“Conservationists are not known for delivering a lot of good news. But in the Burmese roofed turtle — a giant Asian river turtle whose bug-eyed face is naturally set in a goofy grin — they have cause for celebration. Just 20 years ago, the species was presumed extinct. But after rediscovering a handful of surviving animals, scientists have grown the population to nearly 1,000 animals in captivity, some of which have been successfully released into the wild in Myanmar over the past five years.”

And that “goofy grin”:

This smiling cutie was saved by serendipity:

“When the species showed up in a pet shop in Hong Kong, it raised a lot of eyebrows,” said Rick Hudson, president of the Turtle Survival Alliance. “There were a number of local dealers smuggling star tortoises out of Burma at that time, so we just assumed it had been smuggled out by the same traders.”

Encouraged by these developments, Gerald Kuchling, a biologist now at the University of Western Australia, secured permission to initiate a joint expedition with the Myanmar Forest Department to survey the upper Chindwin River, where an American expedition in the 1930s had collected Burmese roofed turtles.

When the summer monsoon grounded the team in Mandalay, Dr. Kuchling killed time by visiting the turtle pond at a Buddhist temple. Gazing out at the murky water, he suddenly saw three smiley heads pop up. They bore an uncanny resemblance to photos of Burmese roofed turtles he had seen in old natural history catalogs.

Dr. Kuchling returned the following day and lured the three turtles to the edge of the pond with a bit of grass. In the seconds before the guards began shouting for him to back away from the animals, he was able to confirm that they were indeed the long-lost species.

“I was very excited, and definitely flabbergasted,” he said. 

Dr. Kuchling and his Burmese colleagues worked with the temple’s board to transfer the rare reptiles, a male and two females, to the Mandalay Zoo.

 [ NY Times ]

Thus began the years-long successful restoration effort.

This environmental success is great news – and represents the work of a lot of good people working on the ground in Myanmar.  Like all successful humanitarian efforts, it is imperative to find local heroes who will champion the work.  This type of success requires not only the foreign biologists (and their financial resources) or academics from the national university but the local people who are now helping release hatchling turtles and watching over nesting sites in the wild.

Read the story in the NY Times or your favorite news outlet.  Very heartwarming.  Donate to organizations that do this kind of good work like the Turtle Survival Alliance (100% of your donation goes to program work, not fund-raising or salaries) or other conservation groups.

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Author’s Comment:

The poor Burmese Roofed Turtle was almost driven to extinction by the world’s two greatest threats to wildlife: Poverty and Greed.

Poverty drives local populations into the wild to find something, anything, to eat — food which they can not afford to buy.  They need the food to feed themselves and their children or to sell to others to buy the necessities of life. 

Greed drives hunters and rare animal collectors into the bush to find rare animals – strange animals – which they can smuggle to the Pet and Animal Collectors Markets, like those in China.  Prices are in keeping with rarity and are often driven by Asian food fads or the market for folk medicine ingredients, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Poverty is a hard nut to crack but progress can be made, one country at a time.  Greed has always been with us – but the smuggling of live animals and their parts could be much better controlled by international and national laws.  China alone could eliminate a huge percentage of the trade by imposing their usual penalties (which for some things can – and should  —  be draconian). 

The amount of this mostly-illegal trade that is necessary or useful approaches zero.   It is something we should work to eliminate altogether. 

Read More – Read Widely – Read Critically

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67 thoughts on “Turtles: Back to the Future!

  1. By far and away, the single most important cause of wildlife loss is the destruction of their habitat. Clear-felling native forests, the loss of mangroves, wetlands, reefs. Almost entirely driven by wealthy corporations. Poverty and poaching are bit players in comparison.

    • I read a Dr. Seuss book about that. I think it was The Lorax. Evil greedy corporations biggering and biggering until the Lorax had no more trees. You read the same book?

    • Are you sure?
      I assume the “wealthy corporations” you are talking about in this context are Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund and the like. Although these organization may do more harm than good, you may find that poverty is bad for humans and many animals alike.

      • Yes, the Green Blight and low density, marginally available, nonrenewable technology. In other cases PETA or People for the Euthanasia of Throwaway Animals. Closer to home, there is Planned Parenthood and life deemed unworthy of life, and/or clinical cannibalism and redistributive change of profitable parts – keep women barefoot, available, and taxable. Progress, while monotonic in principle, unqualified as a concept, is notoriously a one step forward, two steps backward process under the ostensibly “secular” Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic, politically congruent quasi-religion (“ethics”).

        • Small correction:

          People for the Eradication of Throwaway Animals

          Being whacked to the ground to die of internal bleeding is no “happy death”

    • The problem for mangroves in Myanmar seems to be illegal logging by impoverished villagers. link Legal logging by large corporations can be controlled. Illegal logging by impoverished villagers, not so much.

      Prosperity gives people the luxury of being able to care about the environment.

      The joy of being ideologically possessed is that simple answers cover every situation, no data or thought required.

      • In Loy-doh’s case it give her the luxury of sitting behind a fossil fuel powered computer complaining about her fantasies.

        Palm oil, corn for ethanol, trees for woodchips, trees cleared for solar and wind turbine industrial estates, huge up-step in mining and pollution in the production of rare earth metals, child slavery for cobalt, environment degradation from lithium mining, holding third world countries in poverty by denying then reliable energy supplies, …. not to mention the destruction of top-ranked avian wild-life….

        ….one could keep going almost indefinitely

        And its all part of the wealthy greenie corporations that are ruining the environment.

      • That is my understanding the west in particular has had trade bans for years so you simply can’t blame big western companies.

        • With the progress of out-sourcing, free trade agreements, shared/shifted responsibility, obfuscating and creative narratives, and immigration reform, the balance has been carefully adjusted to compensate for Green policies, social progress, reproductive rites and other wicked and dysfunction choices, and progressive prices, too.

      • “Prosperity gives people the luxury of being able to care about the environment.”

        If you look at the bulk “Greens” voters in most countries, they are usually located in the affluent inner-city and upper urban areas.

        They have the luxury of being able to pretend to care..

        … so long as their greenie agenda doesn’t affect THEIR lifestyle, of course..

        • fred250 ==> Prosperity does give people the luxury of caring about the environment.

          This is not about silly US politics. People struggling to feed their families do not care that they are stripping local hillsides of trees for firewood — they need the wood to cook so their family can eat.

          • Kip surely I’m misinterpreting your comment?

            It’s not silly US politics to say that poor people in oppressively run countries like Burma need to be given access to fossil fuels and reliable electricity as the solution to both their poverty and the ecological devastation of forests.

            By the way, why do we have to call Burma Myanmar but we don’t have to call China Zhong guo?

          • Rich ==> I was referring to the “Greens” and “Green Agendas” in the US and Europe, foisted on the world by affluent know-nothings.

            Certainly the people of Myanmar need access to affordable electrical energy and probably bottled gas for cooking (which may have to be subsidized).

            Forests suffer everywhere the people have to depend on the forest for cooking and heating fuel and the animals of the forest suffer when they are a major part of everyday diets.

        • The desire to be validated as a “good person “ in people lacking the courage or discipline to achieve virtue commensurate with being a “good person “ is so powerful they will accept absolutely any insane cult that will offer it to them.

          Take away the mania of the cult and terrifyingly the same hump of a person still lives in their skin and everyone can plainly see they are by no means “good people “.

      • The anecdote is interesting and certainly confirms your bias, but giant shrimp farms are the biggest problem for mangroves.

        10,000 years ago there was 100% poverty and 0% forest loss.
        Poverty isn’t the cause of ecosystem destruction, over-population is; demand exceeding supply and unsurprisingly most of that demand comes from the world’s biggest consumers: us. Rich people are to blame for turtles going extinct, not the poor.

        • And yet the UN says that we have more food per person today than 50 years ago. Since the population has increased, your hypothesis is proven wrong. It is poverty and greed that ruins the environment. The wealthier a country becomes, the better controls it places on pollution and land use. The best way to help developing countries develop is to help them get affordable energy. Then they will not need to chop down the forests to cook their food. Another method is to drop all biofuels, which are predominantly grown in third-world countries because they can make money doing so. Think of all the people the corn we turn into ethanol for fuel could feed. Most inefficient process to generate energy I have seen.

          • Loren ==> quite right. A first step is an electrical grid and a national distribution system for bottled gas — locally produced if possible.

          • Loren your comment is a complete non sequiter to mine as I have no idea what “hypotheseis” you’re talking about. I am pointing out the that the total consumption of all ‘stuff’ has exploded in the recent decades. That ‘stuff’ is extracted, harvested, dug up, picked, manufactured, whatever, it comes from all around the globe and exists because of demand by people with disposable income: you’n me babe.
            Pick your commodity, pick your product, pick energy – it’s consumption will be exponential and strongly correlated to both population and economic growth. Trying to divert attention away from that elephant in the room and pin enviromental destruction on a Lack of wealth and a lack of consumption is through-the-looking glass, barking mad. The Only affect you or I can have to to consume less ourselves.

          • Got particularly bad since the beginning of the AGW farce,

            Palm oil clearly huge tracts of land, corn for ethanol, trees for woodchips, trees cleared for solar and wind turbine industrial estates, huge up-step in mining and pollution in the production of rare earth metals, child slavery for cobalt, environment degradation from lithium mining, holding third world countries in poverty by denying then reliable energy supplies, …. not to mention the destruction of top-ranked avian wild-life….

            ….one could keep going almost indefinitely

            And its all part of the wealthy greenie corporations that are ruining the environment and the greenie far-left anti-human agenda that is ruining economies around the world

          • Loydo: “…the total consumption of all ‘stuff’ has exploded in the recent decades. That ‘stuff’ is extracted, harvested, dug up, … it comes from all around the globe and exists because of demand by people with disposable income…”

            Therefore, some solutions are:

            1) Zero- or one-child policies – sterilizations – encourage abortions – increase euthanasia – engage in more wars – don’t interfere with the natural course of pandemics … sacrifice virgins to volcanoes.

            2) Then, (if any humans still exist), insure that every person’s total wealth is within a small amount of every other person’s wealth.

            Sounds very idyllic.

        • “Poverty isn’t the cause of ecosystem destruction”
          Contrast and compare: Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Both side by side on the island of Hispaniola. The tropical rain forest on the Haiti side has been all but destroyed.
          Why: To produce charcoal for cooking.
          As a side note, do you know how fast *everything* grows in the tropics? The notion that a tropical forest could be wiped out with nothing more than manual labor and hand tools would seem absurd. But they did it.
          On the other side of the border – The government of the D.R. has long sponsored gas cook stoves and propane gas for poor locals. This effort is largely paid for by taxes on the tourist trade. The D.R. rain forest was saved. {Tourist Trade = Rich People}

          “Rich people are to blame for turtles going extinct, not the poor.”
          Poor People: Hunt them, cook and eat them.
          Rich People:
          The Cayman Islands – A huge turtle breeding and conservation program designed to help preserve the critically endangered Ridley’s sea turtle and the endangered Green turtle.
          It grew into the largest tourist attraction on the island. (!)
          It is a great take-in for a day trip. I highly recommend it. {Tourists again(!)}

          Apparently some of the Green turtles hatched here go east and end up in the waters around Barbados.
          Another great day trip. Swimming with the sea turtles. {Tourists again(!)(!)}
          Tiami may look like just another big tourist cat, but look again. The mast has a triple spreader rig with all solid rod rigging. Also double running backstays. Tiami is a *Machine*. She is fast and slick. Not just another pretty face. Got caught in some heavy weather one day. She can Put On The Ritz Wow, what a sail.
          {The whole reason for Tiami’s existence is to provide tourists an opportunity to play with a bunch of sea turtles.}

          Observations made / Lessons learned:
          The best way to save an endangered species is to turn them into a Tourist Attraction.

        • Loydo,

          I question your basic understanding of economics. Looking deforestation purely as an economic activity, it is an example of supply MEETING demand; not failing to meet demand. Where supply fails to meet demand, prices increase, leading to greater exploration for cheaper sources of trees. And, assuming the overall wealth of the consumers doesn’t change or changes very slowly under such circumstances, demand will fall.

          • Leowaj, your comment suggests you, along with many others in the corporate/accounting/government spheres, see these woody things with leaves as nothing but a commodity on a balance sheet, subject to the supply/demand whims, divorced from any biological consideration. So I question your basic understanding of reality.

          • Its your mob cutting them down in the USA and shipping them overseas to burn in the UK.

            Its your mob clear felling forests so they can install unreliable, erratic, bird-life-destroying wind turbines.

            The number of tree SAVED by the advent of coal fired power is basically infinite…

            Don’t pretend to care, Loy-doh… because YOU DON’T !!

        • Loydo ==> How a nation decides to manage their country — such as trading mangrove swamps for productive shrimp farms that produce valuable exports — is their right.

          One wishes they could afford to do so in a reasonable and responsible manner.

          I would be happy to see your tax returns and a copy of your daily diet — you may be a villain by your own standards. I am pretty sure you, and everyone you know, makes more than the $1.20 earned by 25% of the people in Myanmar. Now that is not certain, but you live somewhere wealthy to have computers and an internet connection.

          I have lived in the DR where nearly every home has wood-fired cooking arrangements — in case they run out of bottled gas (which is subsidized by the government to save the remaining forests).
          Even in what appear to be modern suburbs. Charcoal burners and firewood sellers abound on the streets of the capital. This is all driven by national poverty — not rich corporations.

          • “you may be a villain by your own standards”

            Most certainly true. A brief scan around any ‘western’ style house will reveal literally hundreds of articles with a dark past: items of furniture, electronic/electrical gadgets, clothing etc, etc. The first step is being honest with oneself and then attempt to reduce/minimize/eliminate the villainy.

            It seems you start by talking about a particular species the Burmese Roofed Turtle and the threats to it. All fine, no disagreement there…but poaching and illegal trading are a tiny fraction of the larger cause of species becoming endangered of extinct. Habitat loss and the chain of demand ends up back in your and my living rooms, kitchens and garages full of stuff…and then landfill. Sad but true.

          • “The first step is being honest with oneself and then attempt to reduce/minimize/eliminate the villainy.”

            When are you going to start.

            Come on .. we want to see you start fighting against the child mining of cobalt, the massive environmental destruction for wind turbines, from the extraction of rare earth minerals, to the chopping down of forest to putting huge blocks of concrete in the ground to support massive environmental and avian destruction industrial machines.
            The mining and distribution of toxic solar panels, that will never be cleaned up, just dumped in land-fill to pollute for centuries.

            The pollution and environmental destruction in the name of the so-called “green” agenda is huge..

            … but you DON’T CARE do you Loy-doh !

            When are you going you back up your selfish words with some real action?

          • Loydo ==> First , please realize that there are two parts of the original post above.

            The first part is a good news news brief about the efforts to bring the Burmese Roofed Turtle back from the brink of extinction (supposedly — it’s probably just been stuck in a very low population state.

            The second part is the “Author’s Comment” — that’s me and it is clearly labeled as my comments. The proximate cause for this turtles near-demise was the poverty of the people combined with the greed of the rare animal trade. This is true of a surprisingly large number of individual species –Which is the topic of the main essay — the near-miss on extinction for an individual species.

            The larger issues of mankind becoming the dominate species on the planet and the effects of that fact are self-evident. I personally doubt that corporatism is a real cause beyond the simple expansion of the species.

            Many understand that “over”-population is itself caused by poverty — the obverse is demonstrably true — when the standard of living rises, the birth rate drops precipitously. Birth rates in most Advanced Western societies is now below the replacement rate.

        • Typical loydo, if it can find one example that matches what it wants to believe, then it has proven everything it wants to believe.

          Even if shrimp farming has led to the loss of mangroves, you haven’t proven that the other claims are false.

          • Mark and others ==> Any agricultural development involves replacing some other land use with agriculture. Even hydroponics requires some square footage of land.

            Aquaculture requires netting off some portion of wild ocean.

            It is a necessary trade-off. It is not a “loss” — they have traded mangroves for export and income.

          • Kip you seem to be suffering from leowaj’s condition, describing mangrove destruction as “not a loss” *might* be true (it might be totally false too if your fishing ground is wrecked) in a purely short-term financial way. But not if you’re a turtle. I thought you liked turtles.
            This myopia has seen most of the biosphere end up annexed for short-term profit, a strictly finite operation.

          • Still the PRETENSE of CARING……. you don’t loy-doh

            If you did you would be out there fighting against the green agenda that is causing horrific environmental damage is many areas of the planet.

            That is holding third world countries in limbo, without real power supply systems.

            You are an anti-human, anti-environment fraud, Loy !

          • Loydo ==> Have you ever been out there? somewhere where there are people, families, who own absolutely nothing? Fathers who struggle each day to try and feed heir kids? feed them anything at all?

            Ever visited a home, of people you consider friends, who live in a mud floored house on the edge of a mangrove swamp? Their furniture legs set in tin cans to keep the legs from rotting away? A floor that at high tide gets gooey? I have. In fact, when they were threatened with eviction, I bought their home and gave it to them as a gift — cost $120 for a solid title. This was a “home” that in the US, most people wouldn’t have kept their lawn mower in.

            If it had been an opportunity, they might well have traded an acre or two of their swamp for an income producing shrimp pond, without the slightest compunction. Just like the firewood collectors of Myanmar trade their mangroves for cooking fuel and a little income.

            Us rich people find it oh-so-easy to sit in our comfortable living rooms, watching National Geographic streaming over the internet on our 60 inch flat screen TVs and condemning distant people for making hard choices, choices they make just to stay alive.

            Where I live, the local activists try to shut down cement factories — factories that make the cement used to build the homes these people live in — because they cause “dust”. In the Dominican Republic, where I lived and did humanitarian work for ten years, the cement factories were heroes — producing hundreds of good paying jobs for men and women willing to work — lifting whole regions out of poverty.

            Now, maybe you’ve been there, maybe you’ve helped people struggle through these hard choices. But if you had, I think you’d have to be a little more compassionate.

            The BIG thing I learned in all those years was that people want to work — they want almost more than anything a good steady dependable job that pays them a decent wage every week. If even just one member of a family has such a job, they are literally saved. And yes, that means industry, usually foreign investment, corporations and use of resources.

            As the standard of living rises, birth rates go down. Modern advanced western countries are already below the replacement rate — and falling. There is a lesson in that.

          • Kip I am not condemning nor judging any individual as they try to feed their family. Yes I have visited very poor people and sat in their mudhuts while they offered me what they had in an act of generosity that would bewilder most of us.

            And yes who wouldn’t be happy for the impoverished and powerless of the world to enjoy the standard of living and education opportunities, etc. available in the west.

            Unfortunately there are just too many of us for that. The Earth’s biological systems are being degraded at an alarming rate right now – mostly by us, (relatively) wealthy consumers via our corporations. The only equitable solution is that those consuming the most need to voluntarily consume way less. LOL as if thats going to happen…many westerners would rather see hundreds of millions of Indians, Chinese and Africans starve in their huts before conceding a single dollar of their wealth or a single inch of their standard of living.

            Meantime, the world’s biological hotspots, tropical rainforests are made solvent. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation#/media/File:Forestloss.jpg

            20 years later we’re on the horns of an even more diabolical dilemma.

            But I get it, if you deny the the Earth’s biological systems are being rapidly degraded then the problem just goes away. Many readers here will be content with that, but they will be in for an awful surprise.

          • Loydo -==> I am glad you are aware of the real state of so many of the world’s poor. And, and yes, much of the west is idiotically consuming and consuming, mostly stuff that they don;t really need or even want. But if you give up hamburgers or falt screen TVs or your new iPhone every year — it will make no difference.

            What does make a difference is getting out there and helping the poor raise their standard of living. My wife and “tithed” 1/10 of our lives to do just that, paying our own way.

            If others would do the same,even just giving a year’s sabbatical to go out and just help where help is needed, then rapid progress could be made.

            Anti-corporatism is a straw man and will never help anything.

      • commie ==> The mangrove cutting is not really logging — it is fuel wood — fire wood — cooking fuel — collecting. In many parts of the world the destruction of forests is down to this simple need: people need fuel to make fire to cook their food.

        In many areas, there are native charcoal burners — making charcoal — to sell to villagers.

        There has been an international movement to create, make, distribute, give away efficient cooking stoves to reduce the need for the population to raid forests for fuel. while there are many very efficient stoves, it seems almost impossible to get the people to adopt them.

        • Having to pay money to buy fuel is a deal breaker for a lot of people.

          Rocket stoves reduce the amount of fuel needed by a lot. They will burn whatever. I’m guessing that cow dung would work. They produce a lot less indoor pollution. They can be built with cheap available materials. You can even build them with clay or mud. link It seems reasonable that most people would welcome a stove that they could afford and which would allow them to spend less time gathering fuel.

          If I understood correctly, Crispin in Waterloo has been involved in a major project to bring better stoves to the third world.

          • commie ==> All true — and Crispin is your man for the Stove Wars — the endless battle to produce ever more efficient stoves. I have been following the Stove Wars for more than a year.

            I am trying to understand how this effort could be going on for 20 years — with lots of international NGO support — with almost zero real on-the-ground success.

            They make good stoves, cheap stoves — give-away stove — but the people use them and throw them away, going back inmost cases to local traditional cooking methods. Long-term adoption rates are very low.

            That’s what I’m trying to figure out — how/why that is the case.

            I have personal experience with the issue in the Dominican Republic.

          • Kip,

            I hate to say it but it will take generations to overcome tradition. Just look at what we have in modern western civilizations. In more extreme cases we have Amish still using 1800’s technology. But in every day life we see mostly senior citizens refusing “New fangled geegaws”, that have now been around for a generation or more. They still use rotary dial phones, no PC’s, 35mm film cameras, there’s a set of encyclopedias in the living room, etc.. People use what they are comfortable with and will continue to do so until they die unless forced into change. So do it one generation at a time or get an over controlling government to outlaw traditional cooking methods under the penalty of heavy fines/jail.

          • Darrin ==> In the Dominican Republic, there was a smooth transition to bottled gas once the government subsidized distribution and cheap gas fired cook-tops began to be manufactured by local plumbers. That said, even in the “modern” suburbs, every house has a standby wood or charcoal fired alternate, in case the gas runs out.

    • Typical green fallacy Loydo is saying because that sounds like a good answer in her deluded world. So the really funny part with Myanmar is the west in particular has very few companies involved with it because the US placed bans on them dating back to 1993 and over time the bans have varied around 100 times. You could just read the history but when does a greentard ever bother to do that much easier to accuse big western companies.

      The main trading partners of Myanmar are China, India, Japan, Indonesia in that order. I am sure President Xi would love to sit down and have a discussion with you Loydo and please make sure to tell them you are a proud Australian activist.

    • Loydo ==> When poor nations allow their forests to be harvested without thought for the long-term outcomes, it is not “wealthy corporations” but rather corrupt local, regional, and national politicians.

      Even when illegal, the poor need fuel wood to cook. see this story about Myanmar and mangroves. The article calls it logging — but it is really firewood collecting.

      The reduction in the amount of truly wild, undisturbed forests and jungles will naturally increase as populations increase, until a nation is rich enough to supply means of making a living and feeding one’s family that don’t involve clearing land for inefficient primitive cultivation and bush food hunting.

      Other nations are following the pattern seen in the United States a hundred years ago — expanding agricultural land by removing forests. As the U.S. has become richer, marginal agricultural has been abandoned and is returning to forest again. In New York State, thousands of acres revert to forest every year.

      I think you’ll find that individual species loss is often driven by rather localized actions of the inhabitants. The Burmese Roofed Turtle was simply, nearly, eaten to death.

      The pangolin is currently under heavy pressure due to its use in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

      • “I think you’ll find that individual species loss is often driven by rather localized actions of the inhabitants. ”

        I think you’ll find that is untrue. Most habitat loss (the main cause of species loss) is a result of replacing great swathes of forest in Brazil and Indonesia with cattle grazing, growing feed for cattle, broadacre export crops or logging – all of which is carried out by wealthy individuals. Poaching by impoverished locals while unfortunate enough comes further down the list.

        I know you’re trying to frame this as a “see, if they only had lots of energy like us everything would be great”. But that is patently false. The very increase in consumption you advocate is the *cause* not the solution.

        • So, Brazil and Indonesia aren’t allowed to progress and feed themselves or provide food for commerce…

          Is that what you are saying, Loy.

          Such UGLY, RACIST attitudes should be expunged.. wouldn’t you agree. !!

          If these countries were helped in developing a solid reliable energy supply, they could develop into countries that had he wherewithal to do something about environmental problems.

          But the greenie agenda won’t let them.

    • Once again, the socialist blames capitalism for everything.

      BTW, most of that habitat loss is being driven by global warming fads such as bio-diesel, biomass for burning and land for solar farms.

    • Sorta like those wealthy corporations that are clear cutting vast amounts of forests in Germany and other parts of Europe so as to install solar collectors that have an average life span of about 30-40 years?

  2. Environmental groups should be criticsed for not acting hard and fast enough to halt the earlier decline.
    I get sick of do-gooders claiming the high moral ground for the occasional success and a large number of failures. They do not have all that much to do and they do not even do that little bit well. Geoff S

    • Geoff ==> Myanmar was a closed country for many years — nearly impossible for outside groups to get into, even to save human lives.

      Without a lot of ongoing monitoring, it is not possible to even know that a species is in decline. This is magnified by the physical environment — SE Asian jungle.

  3. To Loydo:

    I am not a fan of clear-felling/cutting I must admit, I think we can do better.

    The majority of mangroves are in South-east Asia, places like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. The loss of mangroves in those regions is due to several factors, but mainly natural erosion and conversion to aquaculture/agriculture. 90% of the produce from aquaculture comes from those developing countries in South-east Asia contributing to food security, rural livelihoods and economic growth.
    Most aquaculture operations in South-East Asia are small-scale and are not run by “wealthy corporations”.

    Wetlands main threat is a need for housing, and then they moan when it floods. Again in Asia the pressure for food which means conversion of wetlands to rice paddy fields. Dam construction in Asia is also a threat, maybe the CCCP is a “wealthy corporation”. There are many wetland protection programs in the west. Here in France our Regional Park Federation does a good job of protection, (needs page translation for most of it).


    Loss of coral reef habitat is normally caused by illegal fishing techniques like “dynamite fishing” used by local fishermen. Also pollution, uncontrolled tourism, and then other natural events such as earthquakes and cyclones.

    ……..as for your “poacher bit players” comment….

    you may want to check out https://www.traffic.org according to them “Wildlife trade is one of the world’s most pressing conservation challenges, affecting hundreds of millions of people and thousands of wildlife species.”

    They have an initiative on the go called “The Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online” and you may be shocked to know that a lot of their coalition partners include some “very wealthy corporations” 🙂

  4. Kip, possibly the biggest problem for such wildlife and a host of other resolvable problems plaguing the world these days is the non problem (so far) of ‘climate change’. The meme is used at every opportunity to portray real problems as unresolvable “because of climate change”. It is no exaggeration to say that ‘climate change incentivizes doing nothing. Dare I say that extinctions, wildfires in unmanaged forests, chopping down forests for biomass and building windmills are are relished by these NWO тоталитагуаиs as is the plight of poor societies.

    My wife was stranded in Dominican Republic – went in February and came home a few weeks ago. An outbreak of dengue fever on top of other misery evinced a shrug from government officials who blamed climate change. Spring flooding on the Ottawa River in Ontario was ‘climate change’…. locusts in East Africa….hey everyone can relax and take the hits. Got to rip civilization down to solve these problems.

    • Gary ==> I spent ten years recently doing humanitarian work in the DR. The government simply does not have the resources to fight dengue on a large scale. My wife and I managed to get a northern district that had a dengue outbreak truck mounted sprayers and backpack sprayers, plus chemicals, and they stopped the outbreak in its tracks. I’m sure that when the chemicals ran out after a year or two, they found they couldn’t afford to buy more.

      The national health service was not happy that the equipment was donated directly to a regional health department.

      There is some attitude of “not caring” but mostly that is a cover for “can’t afford to act”.

      • Point taken. I’ve worked in half a dozen African countries and know of what you spoke. Good on you re dengue action Kip! Maybe we need individuals like yourself to replace hegemonic NGOs.

        • Gary ==> There are a lot of NGOs that do good work at the local level while their international and national bodies are cesspools of waste and corruption.

          One has to recognize the difference and applaud and support those actually getting good things done.

          Our organization came upon two completed Neighborhood Health Clinics built by Doctors without Borders .. but not outfitted. Just standing empty and unused. The Dr government could supply doctors and nurses, but had no money for the equipment needed and a supply of basic medicines to start the “at cost” pharmacy. . My wife and I had a relationship with the district health minister and he asked if we could outfit a whole clinic. We could, and did, three of them in a row to great success. It doesn’t take much. We couldn’t have built the buildings though — so inter-NGO partnerships are very important.

  5. I love stories of extinct species rediscovered. It’s almost as good as using “scientific” inference, and artistic license, to create species from a single tooth or whole cloth. There is more than one way to fill in the missing links with brown matter.

    • n.n ==> Yes, I agree, that except for island species, it is often very difficult to say with certainty that a species is gone.

      Someday, not soon, the field of biology will finally settled on a definition of species that all agree with abandon the vague and squishy varieties currently in use.

  6. Look out for a BBC programme on extinction this Sunday at 9.00 pm BST.Presented by one David Attenborough.
    Can you guess what will be given as the main cause of species extinction?(In the future of course.)

  7. Epilogue:

    Interesting discussion — the comments section diverted to cover only the Author’s Comment in a very long thread about the causes of species extinction in general. Corporatism was put forward as the over-riding cause of habitat loss worldwide leading to species loss — with the contributing (or maybe primary, first) cause of over-consumption of everything by the middle and upper classes.

    It is my view that anti-corporatism is a Straw Man Fight — sounds reasonable but it tainted heavily by the current mad rush of the younger generation moving to the left for explanations and solutions — the young rejecting more conservative values and understanding, as they always have.

    There is no doubt that Greed and the “Seeking of Riches” for riches sake is an abiding evil. Nothing new there.

    Those who wish to blame unnamed corporations for the disappearance of individual species need to present examples and evidence. There is evidence galore for the role of Poverty and Greed in the sense of poaching, capture for sale in pet and TCM markets.

    In any case: Hurrah for the Burmese Roofed Turtle!

    Thanks for reading.

    # # # # #

  8. “Those who wish to blame unnamed corporations…”

    I blamed consumerism, “us”. Corporations are just enablers populated by more of “us”.

    “There is evidence galore for the role of Poverty and Greed in the sense of poaching, capture for sale in pet and TCM markets.”

    Yes there is. But given this is just the fifth most important factor (http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/biodiversity-factsheet) why are you ignoring the four more serious causes? Not so much ignore as deny all together. How else can your “Straw Man” comment be interpreted?

    What I do not understand is how so-called conservatives can be so liberal with the natural world.

    • Loydo ==> See the latest paper on extinctions (prevented). — hey have a different list of the causes of extinctions of Mammals and birds on their page 8. For mammals,”hunting and collecting terrestrial animals” tops the list — about even is agriculture and aquaculture.

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