Research Publication

Veterinary observations and biological specimen use after a massive confiscation of Palawan forest turtles (Siebenrockiella leytensis)

By Charles J. Innis, Kenneth Conley, Paul Gibbons, Nicole I. Stacy, Heather D.S. Walden, Paolo Martelli, Sonja Luz, Karthiyani Krishnasamy, Cris Hagen, John Sykes, Diverlie Acosta, Kyle Tabug, Matthew O’Connor, Vicente Vergara Wilson, James Liu, Czaba Géczy, Nguyen Thi Thanh Nga, Ihsaan Sebro, Sheena Koeth, S. Mariah Lancaster, Alessandro Grioni, Sandra Schneider, Olivia Vandersanden, Thomas Owens, Andrew Walde, Niño Rey C. Estoya, Allyson Lee, Sabine Schoppe

Originally published in Chelonian Conservation and Biology in June 2022



In 2015, nearly 4000 critically endangered Palawan forest turtles (Siebenrockiella leytensis) were confiscated on their native island of Palawan in the Philippines after being illegally harvested for the international wildlife trade. Local conservation biologists and an international team of veterinary and husbandry personnel evaluated, treated, and repatriated the majority of turtles (88%) over a 3-month period. Common pathologic findings included ophthalmic, dermatologic, musculoskeletal, and gastrointestinal lesions, including keratitis, osteomyelitis of the shell and digits, pododermatitis, and colonic nematodiasis. Hemogram results indicated severe leukocytosis in many individuals. Specimens for genetic analysis and molecular diagnostics were archived, and several intact carcasses were established as museum specimens. International collaboration may be required to ensure the confiscation and survival of illegally traded endangered wildlife, with ongoing efforts toward enhancing the law enforcement, husbandry, and veterinary capacity of range country personnel.

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Affiliated Authors
  • Dr. Charles Innis

    Charles Innis, VMD, DABVP (RA), Senior Scientist and Veterinarian, Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life

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