Nest Patrol to Save Painted Terrapin Eggs in Langkat, North Sumatera in 2021

Painted terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) is one of the World’s Most Endangered Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises according to Turtle Conservation Coalition (2011). In Sumatera, according to some reports and field observations by Joko Guntoro (also the founder of Satucita Foundation), the remain of wild populations are only found in North Sumatera and Aceh, while in Kalimantan occurs in East Kalimantan.

The sharp decline of Painted terrapin, particularly from the 80s to 90s, is caused by unsustainable egg harvesting by fishermen, hunting of adults to supply consumption market demand, and accidental death by fishing gears. Currently, hunting for adults almost never happened. However, the practice of unsustainable (and illegal) egg harvesting is still practiced by some fishermen. They do that not to seek the economic profit as what businesses do, but to seek additional income for their family and source of protein.

staff of BBKSDA North Sumatera visiting hatchery
Team of BBKSDA North Sumatera visiting temporary hatchery in village. (Photo: Suriadi/YSLI)

The wild population of Painted terrapin in Karang Gading Langkat Timur Wildlife Reserves perhaps is the last stronghold for the population in North Sumatera. The population is small. It can be indicated by the number of nests found by a team of Satucita and BBKSDA (Big Agency of Conservation of Natural Resources) North Sumatera in 2019. The team only successfully found 19 eggs in two nests for one month on the beach. Nevertheless, a nest patrol activity to save Painted terrapin eggs in this wildlife reserve is important to “produce” stock and founder for long-term captive breeding to recover the wild population.

Therefore, the Staff of Satucita works together with the staff of BBKSDA North Sumatera and a community group in village Jaring Halus, called IPANJAR, conducted nest patrol to save and hatch the eggs from December 2020 to April 20201. We successfully saved 78 eggs from five nests. Three nests are handed over to us by villagers, this can be an indication of their voluntary support. Two other nests are found by our team directly.

Nest of Painted terrapin in Langkat
A hole that predicted a nest that perhaps the eggs stolen by people. (Photo: Suriadi/YSLI).

The nests of Painted terrapin are found on two beaches, the same locations where our team focussed nest patrol activity. These two nesting sites are separated by the estuary and can be reached only by wooden machine boat and will take about one hour. Therefore, we divide our nest patrol team here to be two teams. Every team is responsible to check the tracks and nests on the beach. However, the nesting sites having high vegetation density and small areas brought challenges to our team. Moreover, heavy rain is also brought challenges to our team.

Of the total number of eggs incubated, 48 eggs of four nests were successfully hatched, while one nest was failed due to not fertile. Currently, the offspring are kept in buckets filled with water, before being transferred to a raising pool located in wildlife reserves managed by BBKSDA North Sumatera. These offspring will be stock and as founders for long-term captive breeding.

PAINTED TERRAPIN HATCHLING
The offspring from nest number five. (Photo: Suriadi/YSLI)

The Foundation would like to thank ASAP (Asian Species Action Partnership), Houston Zoo, and Turtle Survival Alliance who make our nest patrol in Langkat possible.

If you or your organization are interested to be involved or reached by our initiative, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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