by Rick Hudson
The TSA’s new Turtle Rescue Center (TRC) in Myanmar is a busy place these days after the second recent confiscation of Yellow Tortoises (Indotestudo elongata). A total of 136 tortoises have arrived at the TRC in two shipments in September, turned over by the Myanmar Forestry Department. The tortoises are being treated by Dr. Tint Lwin from the nearby Yadanabon Zoo in Mandalay, and will be held here until appropriate release sites can be identified.
Opened in December 2012 and handed over to the Forestry Department, the TRC is located at the Zeepin Forest Reserve near May Myo, and offers spacious enclosures where turtles and tortoises can be housed safely and humanely while returning to health. Previously, confiscated turtles were held in crowded conditions and released prematurely before habitat assessments could be conducted. With the TRC in place, the future survival and health of confiscated and released chelonians will be vastly improved.
The TRC also has new facilities that support a large assurance colony of Burmese Mountain Tortoises (Manouria emys phayrei) and the cool climate in this hill region is considered perfect for this species. Earlier this year a confiscation included three Arakan Forest Turtles (Heosemys depressa) and four Impressed Tortoises (Manouria impressa), both priority species for assurance colony management. The depressa will soon join the breeding group established at the Arakan Turtle Center in Gwa that we opened earlier this year.
The TRC is a joint initiative of the TSA / WCS Myanmar Turtle Conservation Program and was built with funding support from Pat Koval / WWF Canada, Taipei Forestry Bureau, the Fagus Foundation and the Detroit Zoological Institute.