Meet ‘Dobby’ the Southeast Asian soft-shell turtle (Amyda cartilaginea) who was rescued a few days ago. We received a call from a concerned local who had found him making his way through her garden within a busy urban area in Hua Hin. The concerned local picked him up and placed him in her home, she then called us for help. The WFFT Wildlife Rescue Team headed out to investigate. Upon arrival Dobby seemed well, it seems he had wandered quite a way as there were no known freshwater water sources close to the house. The dry weather seen all over Southeast Asia at the moment may have influenced this turtle to move away from his home, he may have lost his water source due to the severe drought, or he may have no longer been able to find food.
This species is listed as Vulnerable (VU) by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The security of a wide distribution and occurrence in protected areas is offset by specific demand for this species in the consumption trade, currently traded at levels of tons per day. Like many turtles of Asia, this Vulnerable species is intensely hunted for its meat. Large numbers are captured for local consumption by people living in rural areas, while regional networks of hunters and traders also work to supply restaurants and international markets. This turtle is also exploited for its eggs and for use in traditional medicines, and young turtles are taken for the pet trade. Exacerbating the threat of exploitation is the impact of habitat destruction, with wetland drainage, pollution, and the construction of reservoirs and flood defense structures, all adding to this species threatened status.
For now, Dobby is recuperating in the WFFT Wildlife Hospital. He will spend some time being observed and receiving some much needed food while at WFFT before being relocated to a more suitable protected habitat.