Building Capacity to Conserve Myanmar’s Endemic Turtle and Tortoise Species
By virtue of its size, its wide range of habitats, and the fact that it contains three major river systems (Salween, Ayeyarwaddy, Chindwin) within its borders, Myanmar is a turtle and tortoise hotspot. It is home to at least 26 tortoise and turtle species (about 10% of the world’s total), of which seven are endemic to Myanmar.
Asia’s turtles and tortoises are being harvested on a massive scale to meet demands of food, medicinal, and pet markets, mostly in China, which imports an estimated ten million turtles and tortoises a year. This so-called Asian Turtle Crisis is well documented through market surveys, seizures of trafficked wildlife, and the fact that it is increasingly rare to find turtles in the wild. As a result, several of Myanmar’s species are on the verge of extinction.
The goal of this project is to build the technical capacity among rangers, local communities, and university students to monitor and protect key wild and captive populations of the Myanmar star tortoise and the Arakan forest turtle, two Critically Endangered endemics. A series of training courses and technical assistance activities to deliver these skills are underway.