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.
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.
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.