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The Lady Rescuer, Serene Voo Nyuk Wei and the rescued freshwater turtle. Photo credit: Sabah Wildlife Department and Danau Girang Field Centre.

The Lady Rescuer, Serene Voo Nyuk Wei and the rescued freshwater turtle.
Photo credit: Sabah Wildlife Department and Danau Girang Field Centre.

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, North Borneo, [08.26.15] An act humanity of a gentle woman has saved a life a giant Asian soft shell turtle from sure death death in a public market in downtown Kota Kinabalu last July, a report posted by NEWS.MONGABAY.COM

Serene Voo Nyuk Wei single person’s kindness meant the difference between life and death-as-soup.

In July, Serene Voo Nyuk Wei came-across  a 15 kilogram [33 pound] Asian giant soft shell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) at a local market in her hometown of Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah.

“I love and respect all living creatures. I knew that buying that animal would encourage the trade, but I could not face the fact that this poor turtle was going to end in someone’s soup,” said Serene Voo Nyuk Wei.

She immediately dug her pocket and bought the turtle, and paid RM 700 or about $165 U.S.

After taking the massive freshwater turtle,she then took it home and contacted Sabah’s Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) for aid in setting the endangered turtle free.

There were slight malformation on the caraface during the medical check-up conducted by Diana Ramirez, the WRU’s assistant manager and a wildlife veterinarian.

Dr Sergio Guerrero, wildlife vet at the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), inserting a microchip in the turtle’s skin before release. Photo credit: Sabah Wildlife Department and Danau Girang Field Centre.

Dr Sergio Guerrero, wildlife vet at the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), inserting a microchip in the turtle’s skin before release. Photo credit: Sabah Wildlife Department and Danau Girang Field Centre.

After a week of observation, the turtle was transported from Kota Kinabalu to Danau Girang Field Center near the Kinabatangan River and set the turtle back to its own habitat with an implanted microchip for future monitoring and identification.

The threat of Asian giant softshell turtle is the high preference of local Sabahans for its meat and its eggs which are often dug up and sold as a delicacy.

Aside from hunting, habitat destruction due to deforestation, logging, forest fires, and conversion of land for agriculture, settlements and transmigration areas are   the constant threats,” Benoit Goossens, the Director of the Danau Girang Field Center said.

The species is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List — although this designation hasn’t been updated for 15 years.

It is also listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The species is not, however, yet protected in Sabah.

The rescuer,Serene Voo Nyuk Wei and the rescued freshwater turtle.

Photo credit: Sabah Wildlife Department and Danau Girang Field Centre

Dr Sergio Guerrero, wildlife vet at the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), inserting a microchip in the turtle’s skin before release. Photo credit: Sabah Wildlife Department and Danau Girang Field Centre