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For tortoise, terrapin and turtle care and conservation

2011 Appeal - Rescue Centre for endangered Tortoises and Turtles

The Rakhine Turtle Centre, for Heosemys depressa and Manouria emys

Illegal trade to supply the market demands largely coming from China is decimating the tortoise and turtle populations in Asia. You may be aware that recently there have been an increasing number of confiscations of chelonia in S.E.Asia. I am asking for your support to help build a rescue facility in Mymar for these chelonian.

It is proposed through a partnership between the TSA and Indo-Mymar Conservation to establish the Rakhine Turtle Centre (RTC) that – once completed – will become the most important centre globally for Heosemys depressa conservation breeding. Situated within the species range and holding the largest captive population for the species anywhere in the world, the centre will focus on receiving animals confiscated from the trade and breeding for assurance colony purposes.

Future breeding success is expected from the centre hence the opportunity may be available in the future to release turtles back into the wild.

The site chosen as the location is known as the "11 Mile Site" and is located 11 miles from Gwa and 12 miles from the HQ of the Rakhine Yoma Elephant Sanctuary. The facility will be located 200m from the main road along an old logging road accessible year round. The area has many trees and bamboo with valleys surrounded by low hills with a number of streams providing year round freshwater for the centre.

The facility is being designed for Heosemys depressa (Akaran Forest Turtle) and Manouria emys (Asian Mountain tortoise) both species require humid, thick vegetation, ponds, natural substrates and retreats. Manouria emys would benefit from hills or mounds in a large enclosure where this large species would be able to be more active. Heosemys depressa prefers bamboo habitat which is the dominant vegetation in the Rakhine Hills.

Designs will follow those used in the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC), Vietnam. Three enclosures will be built initially:

  1. Heosemys enclosure: Cage dimensions, 14m x 6m height 2.5m (84m² . Intended to hold 10-20 adults in a breeding group or subdivided for juveniles or specific breeding activities.
  2. Manouria enclosure: 14m x 8m height 2.5m (112m²). Intended to hold 10 adults in a breeding group or subdivided for juveniles or specific breeding activities.
  3. Quarantine cage: Following the 84m² design and subdivided into smaller units for confiscation and trade.

All cages will be predator proof and secure/theft proof. Pools and ponds will be built into all enclosures except in the quarantine areas where bowls will be used.

A 2m high perimeter / security fence with concrete pillars spaced at 2 meter intervals will be topped with coiled barbed wire. A single double gate will provide facility access and be large enough for delivery truck access.

I am hoping the BCG can contribute £5,000 to this project. We raised this amount last year and I hope we can do so again. If you like you can make a donation when you renew your membership by adding the amount you wish to donate to the form or you can send a separate donation by cheque. Please make the cheque out to the 'British Chelonia Group' specifying that you want the money to go to the 2011 Conservation Appeal and send this to the:
Membership Secretary BCG,
PO Box 1460,
CV12 9ZW.
And thank you on behalf of the Endangered Asian Chelonia.

(Please be aware that if for any reason the money donated cannot be used for this Appeal the BCG will use money to support similar chelonian conservation projects).

With thanks to Rick Hudson and the TSA for data contained in this Appeal

Anne Rowberry
Conservation Officer