Nature and the Environment
in the News

Source: Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA)
Date: November 20, 2009

Burmese Roof Turtles Face New Threat

gold_minesThe TSA has been partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Myanmar since 2006, working together on a number of turtle conservation projects. Biologists Win Ko Ko and Khin Myo Myo, recently sent us updates on their latest projects. Both have been traveling recently, conducting turtle surveys in several rivers while also raising awareness and providing education in area villages and schools. 

We were disturbed to learn from Khin Myo Myo that the Burmese roof turtle (Batagur trivittata) is facing yet another new threat - gold mining. This critically endangered species is known to nest exclusively in the Chindwin River, and appears to be concentrated on one specific nesting beach - the Linpha sandbank. Recently, a mining company has received permission from the Ministry of Mining to begin dragging four miles of the Chindwin's banks - including the nesting beach - in search of gold. From their observations, the mining operation is very loud during the day and seems to be inhibiting the females from approaching the nesting banks. These turtles are very shy, deepwater animals and sensitive to disturbance. In addition, mining operations typically leave behind a wake of pollution, including mercury run-off.

From these reports (and pictures) these mines are predicted to have a devastating effect on this species, especially as this is the only active nesting population that remains in the wild. WCS Myanmar personnel, along with other biologists, are approaching the mining company to encourage them to restrict or cease operations by educating them about the presence of B. trivittata.