The Asian Turtle Consortium is an independent network of individuals, organizations, and businesses in the private sector committed to the in and ex-situ conservation of all Asian freshwater water turtles and tortoises species. Our efforts are focused on planned captive breeding programs and the management of chelonian assurance colonies with the long term goal of providing stocks for future repatriation within native range of extirpated species.
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On the weekend of 5-6 June 2004 thirty turtle enthusiast assembled at the
Tortoise Reserve's White Lake (NC) property to dedicate its captive breeding
facility to the late Dr. Barbara Bonner. She had visited the facility and
its 140 acre reserve on South River several months before she died.
The primary focus of the facility is a captive breeding center for rare Asian turtles. The greenhouse, outdoor tortoise crawls, and various ponds and pens provide over 4,000 sq. feet for natural habitat set ups. The total collection consists of 125 taxa, 47 taxa and most of the major breeding groups are Asian species. A number of these represent turtles now extinct in the wild. Conservation International provided a grant which assisted with the construction cost of the greenhouse.
part of the ceremony a long term captive group of gulf coast box turtles,
which was under the care of Dr. Bonner, was released in an outdoor 1,000
square foot pen. The pen was constructed the weekend of the event by members
of the Turtle and Tortoise Club of Florida. Dave Lee, Leslie Levine, and
Kurt Buhlman said a few remarks, but the dedication was a simple straight
forward and brief event. Dr. Buhlman noted what an important contribution
Barb had made to our knowledge in the veterinary care of Asian turtles,
"with out this knowledge it would not be possible to maintain most of the
assurance colonies of Asian turtles." These private sector assurance
colonies are critical for many turtles which are nearing extinction, or are
already extinct in the wild.
The Bonner award, a recognition for expertise in long-term husbandry and captive breeding of Asian turtles, was presented to Dennis Uhrig in 2003 and will be given to Walter Allen at the Daytona Expo in 2004. This annual award is presented in the hope that all Barb did to advance the knowledge of veterinarian care of Asian turtles and her independent and pioneering sprit will be remembered.
A silent auction held at the weekend event raised over $850. The funds, in part, were donated to Asian Scholarship Program (a chelonian conservation effort). The amount was matched by the Mid Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society. In the past funds generated from these Tortoise Reserve auctions have been donated to the Turtle and Tortoise Newsletter (Chelonian Research Foundation), the Asian Turtle Consortium, and various private sector turtle conservation programs.
Other activities of the weekend included various chores at the Tortoise Reserve, a few construction projects, canoeing a 12 mile stretch of the Black River with a 12-16,000 year old cypress forest, turtle egg hunts, several field trips, mass consumption of adult beverages, and the release of numerous native head started captive bred turtles on the Reserve's property.
D. S. Lee
White Lake, NC
For the last several years the
Daytona National Reptile Breeders' Expo and Reptiles Magazine have teamed up to
help in fund raising for private sector sponsored reptile and amphibian
conservation efforts. Each year a single conservation cause is identified as the
official focus for fund raising. Last year the Asian Turtle Consortium raised
$17,000 in Daytona from a combination of tee shirt sales, donations and a
Saturday evening auction. Most of the auction items came from private donations,
many from venders at the Expo.
This years activities will benefit two highly endangered species of freshwater crocodilians, the Orinoco Crocodile ( Crocodylus intermedius ) and the Philippine Crocodile ( Crocodylus mindorensis ). On going private sector captive breeding and release programs already exist within the ranges of the respective species. Funds generated will be used largely for genetic studies of the founder stock in these programs to limit the possibility of inbreeding, but funding will also be available to expand the respective efforts, fine tune existing local release programs, and improve the husbandry of the breeding groups. Unlike most conservation programs there is zero overhead and funding will not be used to support academic research. All funds raised will go directly toward helping active working programs with proven track records. This is direct private sector conservation, and because the money will be spent in range in developing countries by programs already in place, modest funding goes along way in supporting goal oriented conservation.
Because this conservation fund drive has now become a tradition at the Expo it was in need of a full time coordinator. Dave Lee of The Tortoise Reserve is overseeing this aspect of the Expo. The 2005 Expo will target the conservation needs of Bahaman rock iguanas. The conservation community appreciates Wayne Hill, founder of the Expo, and Reptiles Magazine for their help and dedication.