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11 Giant Asian Pond Turtles Go Back To The Wild

Like tortoises, turtles arrive at WFFT for various reasons: rescued from the meat or pet trade, unwanted pets , caught on fishermen’s hooks, injured or simply found crossing the road. As population growth increases and habitats destroyed to house and feed them there is an inevitable increase in human animal conflicts. Fragmentation of habitats leads to more sightings and injuries as animals simply try to find a suitable home. People see an animal on the road or in their garden and think they are doing a good deed by picking it up and bringing it to us. Rescuing an animal brings good karma. But it is not really a rescue, they don’t appreciate that the animal is not crossing the road : the road has crossed its trail. A local garden may have recently been prime jungle which has been slashed and burned. Likewise with their farmland which encroaches steadily into the last remaining forrest. When they arrive at WFFT they are treated if necessary by the vet team then kept for a suitable time of quarantine to make sure they are healthy. Once they are healthy they are released into suitable habitats. Finding a large enough body of water that is not fished is not an easy task hear. Fishing is very popular in rural Thailand with both lines and nets. Turtles inevitably get caught up in these and are often consumed. The meat is considered a luxury just as the West consumes animals like lobster. Luckily we have found a local wildlife retreat with a large fertile pond. The properties surrounding the pond are owned by nature lovers and keen to protect their natural area for all wildlife. The rainy season has been especially bountiful this year making the ponds full and the food sources plentiful so when the team got permission to access the pond they immediately set about the release. After quickly rounding up the lucky candidates they were boxed and loaded then driven the short journey to their new home. On arrival they were given a moment to recover then shown their new aquatic home. Without hesitation they all took off with a speed you would not think an ancient reptile could reach. Each one eagerly lunged into the clear water and disappeared. Sightings of them will be rare but we are sure they will flourish thanks to the passion of the landowners to have wildlife in the wild. Most turtle and tortoise species throughout the world are listed as endangered. They are captured for local consumption in vast numbers, by people living in rural areas, while regional networks of hunters and traders also work to supply restaurants and international markets. Turtles are heavily exploited for their eggs, for use in traditional medicines, and juveniles are harvested for the pet trade. Intensifying these threats are the effects of habitat destruction, with wetland drainage, pollution, and the construction of reservoirs, dams, and flood defence structures, all adding to the endangerment of the Testudines.


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