A female of Painted terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) – a critically endangered species – was found (caught) by a farmer in a blocked ditch situated on his farm. The terrapin is accidentally found when the excavator used to dig shallow trenches.
When digging that muddy ditch, a terrapin is sighted by the farmer. The farmer knows that the species is protected – the impact of our socialization program which reach his village -, and he quickly catches the terrapin to rescue her from a dangerous situation. Then, he calls the secretary of Village Gelung to report the finding. After that, the secretary contacts our staff who stay in Village Pusung Kapal, a neighbor of Village Gelung.
Our staff, Hakim and Safrizal, accompanied by the secretary decided to move quickly to respond to the information and check the field situation. After their arrival at the location, our team checked the condition of the terrapin, then recorded morphometric data. More comprehensive information is collected by interviewing farmers.
We were happy to know that a female with 52 cm in carapace length, 45 cm width, and 20 kg weight, is in good condition, without any injury. The female was released immediately on the same day (22 June) on the Tamiang River, the main river, which is only separated (blocked) by a soil wall and only connected to the ditch with a 30 cm pipe to flow the water.
About a decade ago, the ditch is a river branch of the Tamiang River. However, to expand agriculture, the ditch is blocked by building a soil wall. To flow the water into and out of the ditch, about 30 cm wide pipe was installed and connected to the river.
We do not know how the terrapin can be stuck in the ditch. Whether it is caused by the very high tide, when the water surface level between ditch and river are same, so terrapin will be able to cross, or this female had been stuck in the ditch since a decade ago when still hatchling or sub-juvenile. Both are possible.
However, the most important lesson is blocking the ditch or river branch has blocked the terrapin to the main habitat (river) and nesting site, although he/she can grow.
As the farmer said that there is another terrapin stuck (trapped) in this blocked ditch, our rescue operation will continue. The effort to capture that terrapin will use bait traps and fishnet if possible. Stay updated!