by Heather Lowe
Kalyar Platt, the TSA’s Turtle Conservation Coordinator in Myanmar, recently returned to Yangon from the newly completed Arakan forest turtle (Heosemys depressa) facility in Gwa, Rakhine Region at the Taung-Nyo Forest Reserve. She will coordinate TSA support for in-situ propagation and assurance colony development for H. depressa at this site.
During her visit, she transported six forest turtles (two males and four females) that the TSA received from the Mandalay Zoo for inclusion in the breeding program. Traveling with one of her colleages, Me Me Soe, Kalyar took them to Gwa in a large wooden box specially constructed for the trip.
On her last visit, she only found four depressa but three more have been confiscated recently and added to the population at the Gwa Facility, bringing the total number of turtles there to 13 (six males and seven females). Kalyar was very pleased with the quality of the construction at the new facility. The turtle enclosure measures 32 feet by 32 feet and there is a one foot tall wooden divider in the middle.
Two shallow concrete pools were constructed for turtles to drink and soak. A new water tank was placed on top of a tower which is situated at the corner of turtle enclosure. Running water is available to each shallow pool.
Currently, there are three pairs of depressa in one side of the enclosure and three pairs plus one female on the other side. The brick wall foundation is two feet tall and has a four foot wooden fence on top. The whole enclosure is mostly shaded by cashew-nuts trees. There is deep leaf litter on the floor and Kalyar observed that all of the depressa like to burrow within it to stay hidden.
The turtles are being fed papaya, banana, Ipomea, tomatoes and small dry fish. She checked on the turtles throughout the entire day of her visit and observed that they buried under leaves during the hottest part of the day, becoming very active after 4 pm. The turtles seemed to be eating well, swimming, moving around the exhibit and were even beginning to display breeding behavior.
A guard post is going to be added to the complex, but will not be completed until after the upcoming Water Festival – a traditional holiday in Myanmar that precedes the New Year.