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2 turtles rescued by Acres make their way home to Malaysia

SINGAPORE — A small crowd gathered at Jalan Lekar on Tuesday (Aug 27) for a heartwarming send-off, as turtles Barni and Queen B set off for their journey back into the wild.

2 turtles rescued by Acres make their way home to Malaysia

The turtles, who were rescued by the Animal Concern Research and Education Society (Acres) in the middle of last year, will be released at an undisclosed protected area in Malaysia where they can live freely again, in their natural habitat.

SINGAPORE — A small crowd gathered at Jalan Lekar on Tuesday (Aug 27) for a heartwarming send-off, as turtles Barni and Queen B set off for their journey back into the wild.

The turtles, who were rescued by the Animal Concern Research and Education Society (Acres) in the middle of last year, will be released at an undisclosed protected area in Malaysia where they can live freely again, in their natural habitat.

Barni, which weighs 11kg, is a Malaysian male giant turtle — an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list. It had been kept illegally as a pet before being rescued by Acres.

Malaysian giant turtles are the largest freshwater turtle species in Southeast Asia.

Queen B, which weighs 4kg, is an Asian pond turtle, which has been classified as a vulnerable species. A spokesperson from Acres said that it is likely that Queen B was abandoned and subsequently run over by a vehicle — it was found stranded on the road with cracks in its shell.

Queen B’s shell has since healed and the cracks are superficial, a spokesperson for Acres said, and they will not affect its mobility as it makes its way back into the wild.

Both Barni and Queen B are native to Malaysia and are victims of the illegal wildlife trade, which continues to be rampant in Southeast Asia, said deputy chief executive of Acres Kalai Vanan during the repatriation ceremony.

He added that Acres continues to care for several other endangered wild animal species rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, including radiated tortoises, pig-nosed turtles and a variety of snake species.

In the last two years, Acres has repatriated 58 reptiles of four species — 51 Indian star tortoises, four giant Asian pond turtles, two elongated tortoises and one Malaysian giant turtles — back to the wild in their countries of origin.

Mr Vanan told TODAY that the time it takes to rehabilitate the animals before they can be released back into the wild depends on several factors, including the condition in which the animal was found and whether its behaviour has changed since being in captivity.

“We need to ensure that they have the skills and are in good health before we determine that they are ready to go,” he said.

Mr Vanan added that plans are currently underway to repatriate a Forestein’s tortoise named Hawkeye back to Sulawesi in Indonesia.

Acres said in a media statement that more than 35 million animals listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) were exported from Southeast Asia between 1998 and 2007.

Among the top groups of animals that were traded are reptiles, and 17 million were exported from Indonesia and Malaysia to Singapore, the European Union and Japan during this period, the statement said.

Mr Vanan said Acres will continue to speak up for the animals as they fight against the illegal wildlife trade. They also urge everyone to “play a part” by saying no to keeping wild animals as pets or buying wild animal products.

Related topics

turtle repatriation wildlife rescue

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