24 May 2019
Myanmar celebrated International Day for Biological Diversity and World Turtle Day to increase respect and knowledge of Myanmar’s critically endangered turtles .
The celebration held at American Center in Yangon on Thursday included a guest presentation on “Safeguarding the Myanmar’s unique turtle fauna” and display of live turtles – including some vulnerable species endemic to Myanmar. An award-winning film "Love thy Nature" was also screen during the celebration.
The World Turtle Day which falls on 23rd of May was founded in 2000 by the American Tortoise Rescue as an annual observance. It aims to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world.
Director, Turtle Survival Alliance Myanmar, Dr. Kalyar Platt said “A total of 31 species counting 5 species of sea turtles and 26 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises are known to occur in Myanmar, including 11 endemic forms. Myanmar has more species of turtles and tortoises than neighbor countries like China and Thailand. Among them, 18 species are critically endangered due to the illegal trafficking for food, medicine and pet markets in southern China. We can see turtles and tortoises on a basis of their habitats in Central Myanmar, hilly Region and Taninthayi Region.”
As Myanmar is Biological hotspots for turtles, all turtle species are being over hunted. In the world endangered turtle list, Burmese Roofed Turtles ranked as No.2, Burmese Star Tortoise as 11, Arakan Forest Turtle ranked as 25.
Turtle Survival Alliance Myanmar has been working the conservation process of wildlife animals and rare species for over 20 years under the MOU with Myanmar Forest Department and Department of Fisheries.
Director, Turtle Survival Alliance Myanmar, Dr. Kalyar Platt said “We have many Turtle breeding firms and Turtle Rescue Centers in wildlife sanctuary and national parks of the Myanmar Forest Department. We save turtles from the hand of trafficking and hatch them and then release into the wildlife when they are ready. We also make follow-ups research and monitoring process by putting radio telemetry on their back. By doing so, we even saved Burmese Star Tortoise from near-certain extinction and about 3000 tortoises were released into the nature so far. We are also working closely to develop effective conservation plans for this Critically Endangered species.”
According to the data of Turtle Survival Alliance Myanmar, about 15,500 tons of turtles or 15 million to 20 million turtles are being traded illegally globally.