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It is with great pleasure that we are making available a finalized copy of the report from the workshop entitled "Conservation of Asian Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles: Setting Priorities for the Next Ten Years ” hosted by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), 21-24 February 2011. Nearly 70 delegates from 17 countries –including 14 Asian nations – attended.
A primary directive and the basis of the workshop, participants were tasked with looking back at the last decade of turtle conservation since the pivotal meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in 1999 that first brought together the region’s turtle experts. By assessing the past eleven years, participants were able to identify what actions worked well, which ones did not work as well as hoped, and which recommendations/priorities had not been adequately addressed. Next, the participants were asked to look forward to determine emerging trends and new developments and dilemmas/challenges in the continuously changing habitat impacts and market trade in turtles and turtle products.
This report presents a set of recommendations and conclusions arising from presentations, discussions, and break-out sessions at the workshop. The first set of overall recommendations represent the immediate steps necessary for staving off extinction of Asia’s most endangered turtles. These recommendations are of the highest priority. Key policy recommendations are then made, arising from an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red-Listing process that was incorporated as part of the Singapore workshop. In addition, a specific session on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was held. These recommendations dovetail into recommendations for proposed changes to the CITES listing of Asian turtles and how specific species need to be more strictly regulated and supervised in their international trade to protect wild populations. The key policy recommendations should be pivotal in encouraging participating countries to enforce existing laws and regulations and in some cases create new laws or regulations.
Two genera have been identified as priority groups as they make up a large percentage of the most critically endangered turtles in Asia. This is followed by a section on emerging threats and includes recommendations for dealing with these new issues. After which a number of emerging opportunities are detailed for turtle conservation in Asia. The report then features two potential species for pilot reintroduction programs. Before the report concludes, it details species-specific recommendations for the 36 confirmed and proposed Critically Endangered Turtles and Tortoises in South and Southeast Asia, and lastly, there is a short section on the need to gather information on species’ ranked as Data Deficient in order to determine such species population status.
The editors would like to thank all the participants for their valuable contributions to the report; without these contributions, the report would not have been possible. They especially thank all the individuals who graciously provided photographs. They would also like to again thank the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund for their generous financial support of the workshop. Additionally, thanks go out to the Wildlife Conservation Society, Turtle Survival Alliance, San Diego Zoo Global, the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, the Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group and the IUCN Red-list for their financial contributions to the workshop. The editors would like to give a special thank you to all the staff at Wildlife Reserves Singapore who helped make this workshop possible, especially like to thank Saskia Lafebre who was instrumental as our go-to person for all things related to the logistics of organizing the accommodations, food, and venue. Biswajit Guha graciously helped the workshop become a reality after we first proposed the idea of it. Finally, a debt of gratitude is owed to Claire Chiang (Chairperson, WRS) who was a strong supporter of the workshop from the very start.