by Mathilde Overduin, WCS
More than one thousand nests of the Giant South American River Turtle (Podocnemis expansa) were found and protected this year in a small portion of the Meta River, in the Orinoquía region of Colombia, as part of a project led by Fundación Omacha, Turtle Survival Alliance, and Wildlife Conservation Society, and funded by Ecopetrol. This project is part of the Proyecto Vida Silvestre, an initiative that seeks to protect ten endangered species in two strategic landscapes of Colombia.
As part of the project, the communities of Control and La Virgen agreed to protect and monitor a group of beaches that are the nesting sites for more than one thousand females. Discovering and protecting this large population in the Meta River, now the second largest known population in Colombia, gives hope for the conservation of the Giant South American River Turtle in the Orinoquía region.
Conservation work for the Giant South American River Turtle is extremely important, as this species is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN, due to the high level of extraction of eggs and adults throughout the last centuries.