PUERTO PRINCESA – Hope springs for the critically endangered Palawan forest turtle after conservationists successfully hatched a single egg following about 10 years of hard work.
An extremely sought-after species in the illegal wildlife trade, the Palawan forest turtle (Siebenrockiella leytensis) is an endemic freshwater turtle that has faced threats, mainly due to the brazen collection.
Dr. Sabine Schoppe, director of the Palawan Freshwater Turtle Conservation Program under the Katala Foundation, Inc., said they have hatched the first recorded egg from captive parents of the freshwater turtle with support from the Wildlife Reserve Singapore (WRS).
The hatchling that emerged from its egg on June 24 was named “Sonja,” and it is from parents that have been dwelling for years in their “assurance colony” facilities in Palawan.
“Five years ago, with support from WRS, we intensified research on the Palawan forest turtle, and now have a better understanding of their food preferences, incubation requirements like humidity and temperature, incubation time, nesting prerequisites, enclosure and furniture design, and necessary environmental conditions to trigger reproduction,” Schoppe said.
Schoppe, who has been studying and researching the species for the past 15 years, explained that assurance colonies are usually established for species that are facing threats and might go extinct in the wild.
Any Palawan forest turtle that will be raised in captivity will be part of this colony for release later in areas where its population has seriously declined due to poaching. (With a report from PNA/PN)