The rescued turtles have been helped by a rush of support from turtle groups around the world, TSA among them. But these same groups worry about the bigger questions raised by this discovery, both about the already-threatened wild populations and Asia's increasing appetite for turtles.
The Philippine forest turtle was something of a myth for much of the twentieth century, its existence known from a meager four specimens that had been found over the decades. But it was rediscovered in 2004, when a small population was found living in Palawan, an island province of the Philippines.
Unfortunately, while the species' reemergence was a boon to conservationists, it was also an invitation to poachers. "When that species was rediscovered it set off a collecting frenzy," Hudson told The Dodo, adding that the turtles can fetch a huge price on the international market due to their rarity.
These rescued turtles, which were all wild-caught, had been snatched from their forest homes by an organized syndicate of poachers. "Due to the fact that some of them were so emaciated and in such bad shape, we suspect that some of them were there for up to six months," Hudson said, adding that they were headed for turtle farms in China.