S. Schoppe (Project Manager), written about 2 months ago
I apologize for my silence but I really had not time to write blogs. The Palawan Forest Turtle Crisis took my full attention. But now we are almost back to normal.
As of today we are left with only six of the 3,831 Palawan Forest Turtles that had been confiscated on 17 June 2015. Meanwhile we were able to rehabilitate 3,379 individuals and release them back to the wild. Activities concentrate now on monitoring the turtles at the release sites. Sites are monitored monthly or bimonthly. Depending on habitat conditions and stream flow, we monitor some 1km up and downstream of the release site. We do visual encounter survey and trapping with baited funnel traps. We conduct interviews with locals, check for dead turtles, and individually notch all encounters. We check population composition of resident population and of released ones, and we check dispersal over time. We have found few dead individuals but most seem to be healthy and have establish at the release site.
No doubt, that this large confiscation has a long lasting impact on the wild population of S. leytensis. The extent of it we can only surmise in the years to come. Therefore we intend to also re-assess and monitor those populations that we had been monitoring in the past years through long term mark recaptures surveys. Likewise we need to assess areas where no detailed studies have been conducted in the past.
Overall mortality of the confiscated Palawan Forest Turtle was 11.5%, which is low compared to other large confiscations. This would have in no way been possible, had it not been for the prompt and swift action of an international team with the united goal of saving the Palawan Forest Turtle from extinction. Thanks you so much to all who contributed to this!!!
We will also start an information campaign with focus on the release sites. Furthermore, this year’s Turtle Day Celebration will be dedicated to the Palawan Forest Turtle. We celebrate Turtle Day with high school and college students since 2009. Normally we cover marine and freshwater turtles but this year we will exclusively talk about the Palawan Forest Turtle.
By now all temporarily enclosures have been dismantled and we will start working on renovating and expanding our facilities at the Katala Institute for Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation in Narra.
On behalf of Katala Foundation Inc., I would like to thank each and everybody who contributed in the one or another way to the rehabilitation of the turtles. Special thanks to the main players for without their generous financial support and/or technical assistance this crisis could have never been solved.