The only surviving wild population of Burmese Roofed Turtles consists of less than ten adult females and an unknown (but likely few) number of males in a remote stretch of the upper Chindwin River. The turtles are imperiled by loss of critical nesting habitat such as sandbanks, incidental loss to fishing gear, and occasional illegal harvesting of eggs.
The grantee's efforts are aimed at enhancing recruitment of juvenile turtles into the surviving wild population. This will include the process of head-starting, whereby juveniles are reared in captivity to maturity before release back into the wild. This helps optimise individual survival rates and the chances of increased breeding among mature individuals in the wild. The following actions are designed to achieve this objective:
- Locally-recruited “beach wardens” will protect and monitor sandbanks used by nesting female turtles;
- Turtle eggs will be collected and incubated at a secure sandbank;
- The resulting hatchlings will be head-started and released 3-4 years later;
- Existing wild population will be augmented by releasing 100 captive-bred turtles (3-4 years old) from Mandalay Zoo with follow-up monitoring (18-24 months) to determine movements and survival.
Increasing the number of wild Burmese Roofed Turtles lessens extinction risks and increases the likelihood of long-term population viability.
The wild population of Burmese Roofed Turtles currently consists of no more than seven adult females. The grantee will rear two cohorts of head-started offspring, each comprising 60-80 hatchlings, and release these into the wild, significantly bolstering the wild population. Second, the 100 captive-bred Burmese Roofed Turtles the grantee proposes to release will immediately augment the wild breeding population.