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September 18, 2019

Conservationists struggle to bring Arakan forest turtles back from extinction

A rare turtle species of Arakan forest turtle, scientific name Heosemys depressa, which lives only in RakhineYoma. Photo : Peinzaloat Thein Nyunt

The Arakan forest turtle, one of the world’s rarest turtle species, is being conserved in Gwa, as the number of turtles rose to 50 this year, having increased from just five in 2005.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature-IUCN regard the Arakan forest turtle as a critically endangered species. There are about 50 Arakan forest turtles that are under the protection of the Myanmar Wildlife Conservation and Fisheries laws.
“Although this turtle species is freely living in the sanctuary, they can easily become extinct for many reasons. Beginning in 2005, five Arakan forest turtles were brought under the care of the Wildlife Conservation Society-WCS (Myanmar) and have now increased to 50 turtles”, said U Tun Thu, a research officer from WCS-Myanmar’s Turtle Survival Alliance.

A rare turtle species of Arakan forest turtle, scientific name Heosemys depressa, which lives only in RakhineYoma. Photo : Peinzaloat Thein Nyunt

The Arakan forest turtle is the common name, with the scientific name being Heosemys depressa, which are now being monitored in the Rakhine Yoma elephant sanctuary in Gwa Township, Rakhine State.
Those rarest turtle species are being nursed by the staff from the Forest Department, WCS (Myanmar), Rakhine Yoma Elephant Sanctuary, and Turtle Survival Alliance.
Arakan forest turtles can only be found in Myanmar, especially in Rakhine State, and are not present in other countries. They are protected under a breeding system, said U Tun Thu.
The Arakan forest turtle can lay between three and seven eggs per year, but only two or three eggs can be fertilized, while other turtles lay three times per year and have high breeding rates.
The turtles live in forests in Rakhine and can be spotted along the streams. They can especially be seen in Rakhine State and can also be found in the western part of the Ayeyawady Region.
Previously, a large number of Arakan forest turtles were facing illegal poaching in Myanmar, but now they are registered as the world’s third rarest species. Myanmar has maintained this species as its natural heritage, and they are listed as a critically endangered species.—Peinzaloat Thein Nyunt

(Translated by La Wonn)

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