13 endangered snake-necked turtles repatriated to Indonesia

SINGAPORE – Thirteen critically endangered Roti Island snake-necked turtles were successfully repatriated from Singapore to their home country of Indonesia last September.

The turtles – experts believe they may be extinct in the wild – were originally sent to Singapore Zoo in 2015 from breeding programs in the United States and Austria.

This is the first repatriation of the species, marking a milestone in efforts to boost the wild population, the conservation organization Mandai Nature, the Wildlife Conservation Society – Indonesia Program (WCS-IP) announced on Wednesday (January 19th). ) and the Singapore Zoo.

The efforts are led by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) and the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BBKSDA) in East Nusa Tenggara province.

The turtles, which have moved into a breeding facility in Kupang in the province, are now part of the first structured conservation breeding program in Indonesia. The offspring will be raised under human protection from the development of the eggs with the aim of reintroducing them to their original wild habitats.

The organizations said such programs help increase their chances of survival in the wild.

MOEF’s Director General of Natural Resources and Ecosystems Conservation, Mr. Wiratno, said: “This repatriation is the first step in restoring the Roti snake-necked turtle population to its natural habitat, as well as the demonstration that species conservation is a concern for the international community. .”

The turtle species, which has not been seen in its natural habitat since 2009, has suffered from the destruction of its wetland habitat for agriculture and the desirability of the global pet trade, the statement said. .

WCS-IP National Director Dr Noviar Andayani said the water supply on Roti Island must be maintained to protect the lake habitat of the turtles, as the land there is arid.

She said: “With our government partners, WCS-IP will work hand-in-hand with communities around the lakes…We will use sound science to design our management interventions and promote sustainable economic practices around the lakes.”

Before the turtles were returned to Indonesia, they were held at the Singapore Zoo, which is home to the only insurance colony of the species in Asia.

Dr Sonja Luz, vice president of conservation, research and veterinary medicine at the Mandai Wildlife Group, said repatriation is something organizations have been working on since the turtle conservation plan was developed there. five years old.

WCS-IP will work with BBKSDA to build support for the local community to conserve turtles and protect habitats.

“These include ongoing sensitization visits to build trust with key figures in the village and training villagers to conduct community patrols around the lakes,” he said.

Mandai Nature will help the two organizations develop reintroduction guidelines for the turtles. They will work on long-term monitoring protocols so conservationists can track the turtles’ progress in the wild.

Jurong Bird Park, which falls under the Mandai Wildlife Group, has also helped repopulate the Luzon bleeding-heart dove, which is nearly extinct in the Philippines.

He raised 10 doves and sent them home in 2020.

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