The Turtle Conservancy has had some exciting new hatchlings during the month of October!
We hatched five more Critically Endangered Golden Coin Turtles (Cuora trifasciata) as part of our ongoing participation in the reintroduction program run by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Hong Kong and the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. This lovable turtle is prized in “traditional” Chinese medicine for its purported health benefits; recently it was proclaimed by turtle farmers to provide a cure for cancer. Local farmers are slowly becoming poachers of this species because for the price of one turtle, they can buy a house!
The Turtle Conservancy joined the Golden Coin Turtle conservation effort in January of 2013 when we executed the first-ever repatriation of captive-born turtles for a reintroduction program. Today we have now produced 26 offspring of this rare species at our conservation breeding center and are continuing to repatriate them for eventual reintroduction into a highly protected area of their natural habitat in Hong Kong.
We hatched one more Endangered Forsten’s Tortoise (Indotestudo forstenii). We know very little about the wild populations of this incredible tortoise. It is endemic to Sulawesi, Indonesia, where it is restricted to the northern arm of the island and is collected for local consumption and the pet trade. The Turtle Conservancy traveled to Indonesia to study this species in June of 2012. The TC’s Christine Light is the North American studbook keeper for this species, and we are looking into future fieldwork opportunities to better understand this tortoise.
We hatched one Critically Endangered Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata). This striking tortoise is endemic to Madagascar and is found on the southern tip of the island. Heavy collection for local consumption and the pet trade is driving this tortoise to the brink of extinction.
We hatched one Critically Endangered Pancake Tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri). The carapace of this remarkable species is flattened, hence its name. It is commonly found squeezed in rock crevices in Tanzania and Kenya. Collection for the pet trade is destroying wild populations of this tortoise.