In 2021 we completed an education center and a tour route guiding visitors through the community of Cotocá Arriba; presenting key aspects of the program’s history, the river, and their role in protecting the Magdelana River Turtle.
Turtle Survival Alliance also partners with a local community along the Meta River of northeastern Colombia’s plains to stave off population declines for the second largest known population—and largest outside the Amazon region—of Giant South American River Turtle. Through Proyecto Vida Silvestre, we establish conservation agreements with the villages of Nueva Antioquia and Santa Maria de La Virgen to set aside protected nesting beaches; recruit local villagers to conduct surveillance of the protected beaches to reduce collection of reproducing females and their eggs; monitor reproductive parameters during nesting season; and evaluate the effectiveness of the various conservation efforts.
This program has hatched and released over 140,000 turtles, reduced collection on protected beaches to almost zero, and reduced collection and consumption of the Critically Endangered species in nearby villages due to their awareness of and participation in the work.
The tropical dry forest of northern Colombia is one of the most degraded and transformed ecosystems in the country with less than 9% remaining intact. The rest has been converted to cattle pastures, crops, and infrastructure, significantly affecting the ecosystem’s flora and fauna. A victim of this process is the Dahl’s Toad-headed Turtle, endemic to northern Colombia and the only species from the family Chelidae to occur west of the Andes.
To secure a future for the Dahl’s Toad-headed Turtle, the TSA partnered with Rainforest Trust and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), searching for a land parcel to establish the first-ever reserve for the species. For two years, the team investigated potential sites across the species’ geographic range, evaluating their suitability to serve as a reserve. On Tuesday, December 17, 2019, the team formally signed documents acquiring a 120-hectare (296 acre) parcel in San Benito Abad, Sucre, Colombia. This reserve gives this little turtle a real fighting chance for survival and gives managers an opportunity to restore a genetically healthy and thriving wild population.
Lead Partners and Supporters
- Wildlife Conservation Society,
- Rainforest Trust,
- Tortugas del Sinú,
- Disney Conservation,
- Ecopetrol S.A. ,
- Fondation Segre,
- Fondo Accion,
- Fundación Omacha,
- Fundación Santo Domingo,
- People’s Trust for Endangered Species,
- Trillion Trees,
- the communities of Cotocá Arriba,
- Flechas Sabanas,
- Nueva Antioquia,
- and Santa Maria de La Virgen.