23 March 2020 - Source: Myanmar Times
Conservationists have begun reintroducing a critically endangered turtle species in its original habitat in the upper Chindwin River.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said it has begun the "soft release" of 40 rare Burmese roofed turtles near Linpha village in Hkamti township in Sagaing Region.
Burmese roofed turtles are found only in Myanmar. They are herbivorous and used to be found in the Ayeyarwady, Chindwin and Sittaung rivers, including larger tributaries. Now they are restricted to the Chindwin in Sagaing.
One conservationist said the turtles will be kept on a raft on the river for up to eight months before being released in the river to fend for themselves.
A WCS official said, "They don't know how to survive in their natural environment, and this soft-release period will help them."
"Now they are living on a raft floating in the river, and they will be released into their natural habitat later," he added.
The Burmese roofed turtle, which is classified as a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, are protected by law in Myanmar.
The conservationist assumed that the turtle would become extinct, but efforts by conservationists and experts to conserve them since 2002 have met with some success.
Through the cooperation of the Forest Department, the WCS, and Turtle Survival Alliance, about 1000 Burmese roofed turtles now live at the freshwater turtle sanctuary in Linpha.
Myanmar is home to five species of sea turtles, and 27 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises.