CARAPAX CENTRE
ITALY

History:

The British Chelonia Group ran an appeal for the Carapax centre in 2002, and subsequently in 2003.In addition, appeal money from 2001 was also committed. The total raised was in excess of £25,000. The idea was to have a terrapin sanctuary in the form of a lake built in sunny Tuscany, where unwanted terrapins from the UK and Europe could live out their days. Hundreds of terrapins, many much loved pets, were sent out from the UK, generating further finances of £25 each to the centre from 2002. This despite the fact that no lake would be constructed for a further 5 years.

 

Things the BCG main committee has been slow to tell its members:

Carapax was in dispute over the land leased by them in 1999, three years before funds were raised by the BCG for them see article No planning permission was ever given for the proposal of a terrapin lake.
Carapax was first asked to leave the Tuscany site in 1999.
The BCG conservation officer at that time refused to head-up the project (see letter) He has recently claimed that this was only because of 'logistical issues' Judge for yourself (Langton memo to chairman)
The BCG PRO and Deputy director of terrapin projects at that time criticised the project as unworkable (see letter)
Issues over the land, and its use came to a head in 2009 when the Italian authorities brought to a climax their court action against the Carapax head, Dr. Ballasina
Despite this, a further appeal for more money was launched by the BCG for 2009 for CARAPAX Now called TORTUCA, but headed up by the same man)
Mr Paul Eversfield, eminent amateur herpetologist , Mr Roman Muryn, candidate for BCG Chairman,(See his Powerpoint presented at 2009 AGM) and Mrs Maggie Coleman (long standing fund raiser for the BCG) were all removed as BCG members for voicing their concerns over this issue. Mrs Coleman won a common law case against the BCG in August 2010 for their actions against her. See Judgement
Concerns were also raised by the Tortoise Trust (see letter)
Flood and drought affect the Carapax site, alternately releasing terrapins into the wild when they are washed away, or leaving them to die in shallow over heated pools when the water dries up. (see picture) Note: if a donkey can access the island, how shallow is the lake, and how did it get in?
As a result of the court case Dr.Ballasina is removed from the site.His lease has been ended.
Dr Ballasina has been fined (10,000 e ) and has been given suspended sentence for keeping rare chelonia without the required paperwork.
All of the rarer animals from Carapax are were removed to other locations by Dr Ballasina but have since been found and confiscated by the Italian Authorities.
Many of the terrapins sent to the two tuscan lake projects (Carapax) are now dead or dying. A bio hazard alert has been issued by the local authorities (see picture) (see picture)
Concerns have been raised by many eminent scientists over the CARAPAX/TORTUCA schemes.

Five questions you might ask the BCG main Committee:

1) Why are the BCG so insistent on funding this organisation (CARAPAX/RANA/TORTUCA)) when it clearly has no conservational aims, and its head, Dr Ballasina has been disgraced.

2) Why is the Chairman and Vice-Chair denying that Dr. Ballasina has done anything wrong, even to this day, and that the court coase is still being challenged?

3) Why are dissenting and questioning voices raised over this issue being silenced by having their membership removed?

4) Why has the BCG not given any update (even as to its total) of the 2009 appeal in the Newsletter. All mention of it has simply vanished

5) Why will the BCG committee not answer questions on Carapax when raised by members- re: 2011 AGM

NOTE: The BCG have now turned themselves into a Company limited by Guarantee, shifting some of any potential financial liabilities onto its members, whilst reducing the BCG trustees (now called Directors) own liability.
Could this be a response to the Italian Authorities determination to find a culprit for this environmental disaster in Italy?