NEW YORK (April 11, 2012) The Wildlife Conservation Society announced today a new strategy that draws on all of the resources and expertise across the institution from its Zoos and Aquarium, Global Health Program, and Global Conservation Programs to take direct responsibility for the continued survival of some of the world's most endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles (collectively referred to as turtles).
The strategy involves preventing the extinction of at least half of the species appearing in a 2011 report by WCS and other groups that listed the 25 most endangered turtles and tortoises on the planet.
WCS will breed and reintroduce some species, develop assurance colonies (captive groups of animals maintained so that no genetic diversity is lost) for others, and protect another subset with field work. WCS will use its four zoos and aquarium, its health program, and conservation field program to meet this challenge.
Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, Vice President of Species Conservation at WCS, said: "Only by garnering the vast knowledge and resources from across the whole of WCS can we successfully address the threats to the world's endangered turtles. WCS's long history and current broad and deep expertise position us to rise to this challenge, and to conserve the threatened species across this ancient, diverse, and fascinating lineage."
WCS will strive to alleviate threats to highly endangered turtles by working closely with relevant governments to react rapidly in nations that are centers of turtle diversity, including Cambodia, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
More than half of the world's approximately 330 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises are threatened with extinction due to illegal trade and habitat loss. Most of the world's turtle trade is driven by demand from China, specifically for human consumption, traditional medicines, and the pet trade.
"WCS is a leading organizat
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Wildlife Conservation Society