Central American River Turtle
Saving the Central American River Turtle
The Central American River Turtle is in decline across its range in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, and is listed as one of the top 25 most endangered species of freshwater turtle in the world. TSA and our partners work to ensure the long-term survival of the critically endangered Central American River Turtle (locally known as Hicatee), in Belize through a combination of legislative action, community enforcement and involvement, protection of key areas, population monitoring and augmentation, and essential natural history research. In 2014, TSA established an assurance colony, the Hicatee Conservation and Research Center (HCRC), in partnership with the Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE), on their biological reserve and field station. The HCRC comprises multiple large ponds that house a large adult breeding colony, an incubation facility, and grow-out ponds for hundreds of juveniles, successfully rearing Hicatee for eventual reintroduction to the wild.
Additionally, the TSA North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group, in collaboration with the Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE) performs biannual surveys to identify and quantify the species, abundance, and demographics of the freshwater and terrestrial turtles inhabiting BFREE's 1,153-acre biological field station and reserve in the foothills of the Maya Mountains.
In 2021, through land acquisitions, Turtle Survival Alliance and our partners Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and Re:Wild, purchased 12,140 ha of forested land surrounding Cox Lagoon, protecting the Lagoon and all that inhabit it. This acquisition is vital as a potential area recovery of the Central American River Turtle in the species’ first entirely protected habitat.
Government of Belize - Belize Fisheries Department, Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE), Zoo New England, Missouri State University, Belize Wildlife Referral Clinic, Belize Zoo, Birmingham Zoo, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Wildlife Conservation Society-Belize, Jacksonville Zoo, and Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo