Wildlife rescue group Acres sends Malaysian giant turtle back home

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Rahayu, an endangered Malaysian giant turtle, will be repatriated to its habitat in Malaysia. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - An endangered freshwater turtle was sent back to its native habitat in Malaysia after spending more than a year being cared for by wildlife rescue group Acres, or Animal Concerns Research and Education Society.

Rahayu, the Malaysian giant turtle, was rescued by Acres in October 2015 after a member of the public spotted it crossing a road in the western part of Singapore. It is not known how it ended up in Singapore, but the giant turtle was found with a fish hook lodged in its mouth.

On Thursday (Feb 2), Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, and Acres founder and chief executive officer and MP for Nee Soon GRC, Mr Louis Ng, helped to transfer Rahayu into a transport crate before it left for Malaysia.

The turtle, which weighs a healthy 30kg, will be handed over to the authorities in Johor later on Thursday before it is released into a nature reserve.

Deputy chief executive officer of Acres, Mr Kalai Vanan, who manages the animal care and wildlife rescue department, said: "Rahayu is the first (reptile) and certainly won't be the last. She is an ambassador to the cause that we are undertaking, that our rescued wild animals deserve a second chance at living free and that it can be done."

The Acres Wildlife Rescue Centre is home to over 190 wild animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, either abandoned or kept as pets in Singapore.

Threats faced by the Malaysian giant turtles include the meat trade, demand in traditional Chinese medicine and the illegal pet trade.

Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list, the giant turtles are also the largest freshwater turtle species in South-east Asia.

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