by Kalyar Platt 

Earlier this month the TSA/WCS Myanmar Turtle Team transferred 24 Burmese Eyed Turtles (Morenia ocellata) to a recently established assurance colony near Bago, about 45 miles north of Yangon. 

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The turtles had originally been rescued by Win Ko Ko from a monastery pond in Rakhine State.  The turtles immediately took to their new quarters, a spacious natural pond with lush vegetation growing around the periphery; within minutes of being released, we observed turtles grazing on aquatic grasses. The Burmese Eyed Turtle is endemic to Myanmar and virtually nothing is known concerning its natural history. 

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Unfortunately, this species is being decimated by the illegal wildlife trade, with huge numbers being sent north to the burgeoning wildlife markets in southern China where a grisly fate no doubt awaits them.  The primary objectives of this and our other assurance colonies are to serve as a hedge against future extinction in the wild, as well as providing offspring for eventual reintroduction into protected habitats.  In this regards, we have a long way to go with the Burmese Eyed Turtle.

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