With 27 species of tortoises and freshwater turtles – almost a third of which are endemic – Myanmar is among the most important chelonian diversity countries in the world. It has also become Ground Zero for turtle conservation in Southeast Asia, as its extraordinary turtle fauna is threatened by subsistence harvesting, widespread habitat destruction, and most insidious of all, entrenched networks of illegal traffickers with direct lines to wildlife markets in bordering China and Thailand.
Beginning in the early 2000s, the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) working together in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has sought to stem the seemingly inevitable tide of extinction with a combination of in situ and ex situ programs focused on the most critically endangered species. These efforts are increasingly showing signs of success, although the battle to save Myanmar’s imperiled turtles is far from won.
The 2016-2017 year was another banner year with a major confiscation of Big-headed Turtles (Platysternon megacephalum), record-breaking reproduction by Burmese Roofed Turtles (Batagur trivittata), continuing reintroductions of Burmese Star Tortoises (Geochelone platynota) into the national protected area system, and notable breakthroughs in the captive breeding of Burmese Eyed Turtles (Morenia ocellata) and Asian Black Giant Tortoises (Manouria emys phayrei). [Read more]