News Release

River terrapins making a comeback in Asia

23 May 2014
Batagur baska adult
Photo: AGJ Morshed

Rick Hudson, President of the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) updated SOS with a quick review of nesting successes from Bangladesh for several river terrapin species in the Batagur genus. Multi-coloured and charming in their own right, the future is looking brighter for Batagur baska and relatives.

Today is World Turtle Day, May 23rd when turtle lovers everywhere will gush over stunning pictures of marine turtles sharing them on social media platforms and supporting these most charismatic of reptiles. But spare a thought for lesser known, similarly threatened turtles such as those river terrapins of Asia of the genus Batagur which are making a comeback thanks to the efforts of TSA; an SOS Grantee and IUCN Member.

Throughout Asia nesting season has just finished for river terrapins of the genus Batagur, where five of the six known species struggle to survive. All species have been reduced to remnants of their former numbers, and intensive recovery programmes are now necessary to ensure their survival. And in Bangladesh, one of the world’s rarest turtles, the Sundarbans River Terrapin (Batagur baska), is having another good year. At facilities in both India and Bangladesh, thanks Measuring the eggs. Photo: AGJ Morshedto a successful bi-national conservation programme, rapidly growing captive populations are strong indications that this rare turtle may well be on the road to recovery.

From the Bhawal National Park facility near Dhaka, Bangladesh, facility manager A.G.J. Morshed reports that the first female Batagur baska nested on 20 April, laying 15 eggs. The second nest of 21 eggs was found the next day, and by April 1st 2014 five of the six females had nested, Preparing the nursery. Photo: AGJ Morshedlaying a total of 101 eggs of which 89 were set for incubation - some eggs were broken during nesting and 1 nest was partially predated by a monitor lizard. More recently still a sixth female hauled out on the bank to explore and was expected to nest soon after. All other nests have been moved to a caged protected area on the beach for incubation, and temperatures are being carefully monitored in an effort to produce more females.

“This is a collaborative management programme between the Turtle Carefully documenting the eggs. Photo: AGJ MorshedSurvival Alliance (TSA), Vienna Zoo, and IUCN, and has made tremendous strides in 2013 and 2014 due to strong support from SOS - Save Our Species” commented Rick. In both India and Bangladesh, improvements have been made to captive breeding and rearing facilities, as well expanding survey efforts to locate wild nesting populations. The SOS grant to the TSA supports Batagur recovery programmes for three species in Cambodia, India and Bangladesh.

The more females that hatch the better. Photo: AGJ MorshedFunding a total of four turtle conservation projects across Asia and Africa, SOS is proud to share news of achievements and progress in the work to protect many of the world’s turtle species. Today is World Turtle Day and news of progress for the lesser known and equally amazing Batagur river terrapins of Asia is heartening news that by pooling our resource and efforts, sometimes great things can be achieved in wildlife conservation.
 

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