Nature and the Environment
in the News

Source: Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA)
Date: December 5, 2009

Milestone for the Burmese roof turtle recovery program

Win Ko Ko of the WCS / TSA Myanmar turtle conservation program reported recently that 20 (5 males and 15 females) head-started Burmese roof turtles (Batagur trivittata) were moved to the large adult breeding pond at Mandalay's Yadanobon Zoo. The 20 turtles were hatched on the Upper Chindwin River in spring 2006 and came to the Zoo later that year. The new breeding and head-start facility opened in December 2006 and currently manages over 240 offspring and a breeding group of 7 adults. However, due to the rapid growth rate of this species - a testament to the excellent care they are receiving at Yadanobon Zoo - the facility has become overcrowded. To alleviate crowding and to provide optimal growing conditions for the older progeny, a group was moved in with the adult breeders. Though they will not be able to be monitored as closely as in the head-starting facility, the team is confident that they will be able to reach adult size much quicker in a larger pond, and develop improved swimming abilities and more natural behaviors.
 
In August 2009, a TSA team drew up new plans to significantly expand the roof turtle head-start program, and will soon be adding new grow-out ponds and hatchling rearing tanks.  New ponds for endemic soft-shell turtles will also be built to accommodate a group of juvenile Burmese peacock soft-shell turtles (Nilssonia formosa).  This new facility is part of a major expansion of captive programs that the TSA plans to implement over the next year, and will include facilities for Asian mountain tortoises (Manouria emys), Burmese star tortoises (Geochelone platynota), and Arakan forest turtles (Heosemys depressa). Fundraising for these in addition to a major rescue facility in Lashio are underway, and construction bids will be in hand soon.  Total estimated costs for this phase of expansion are estimated at $85,000 for 2010.
 
Throughout Asia, the uncontrolled trade of turtles and tortoises continues to devastate wild populations, and we believe that we must establish captive assurance colonies for as many priority species as is financially feasible.  The success of the Burmese roof turtle program is a shining example of the types of programs that are necessary to continue to prevent turtle extinctions.

If you are interested in learning more about how can support this important project, contact Heather Lowe: