Yangon, Myanmar—TSA-Myanmar Director Kalyar Platt has announced the hatching of 67 Burmese Narrow-headed Softshell Turtles (Chitra vandijki) in Myanmar! A critically endangered species, the Burmese Narrow-headed Softshell is endemic to the Ayeyarwady and Chindwin River drainages of the country.
On July 23rd, staff members of the TSA and Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) turtle conservation program in Myanmar excavated the nests of female Burmese Narrow-headed Softshell Turtles on the banks of the upper Chindwin River in northwestern Myanmar. The eggs were translocated to makeshift nests in the protected hatchery at the TSA/WCS Linpha Village field station for incubation. Here, the turtle conservation program also incubates translocated eggs of the critically endangered Burmese Roofed Turtle (Batagur trivittata), a sympatric riverine species. On Sunday, September 30th, after a 69-day incubation period, the 67 peculiar-looking turtles hatched, presenting a new opportunity for this enigmatic species.
Ranked in the Top 50 most-endangered taxa of turtles and tortoises in the world, the Burmese Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle population has suffered due to widespread overharvesting for the food markets of southern China. One of the largest freshwater turtles on earth, with carapace lengths up to 1 meter, the sheer bulk of this species makes it sought-after for its meat. Now, with an unknown number proverbially treading water in the turbid Ayeyarwady and Chindwin Rivers, nest translocation and protection activities may provide the only hope this poorly understood species has for survival.
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