hatchlings of painted terrapin

Result of Nest Patrol to Secure Terrapin Eggs 2017

The nest patrol activity was finished last mont. That five months nest patrol was successfully secured 424 eggs of 26 nests. Of that total number, 371 eggs was hatched while the other was failed. This year hatching rate is 87.5 percent, higher compared to last year. The hachlings produced this year is 371. All hatchlings produced are released immediately after hatched. So, as of 2017, the total hatchlings of Painted Terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) released into wild is 1,204. We are expecting this number will boost the wild population of this critically endangered terrapin in the future.

The patrol

Totally, we spent 131 days on the beach to carry out nest patrol. We were walking along the beach, about 3.2 km in length. So, we had to walk along 6.4 km every night, three hours per night and depend on the time of high tide. There was also a time when we had to walk two times every night: 7 pm and 5 am. That was happened when the high tide occurred early night (about 7 pm). Then, the high tide was started again at about 5 am. So, we had two chances that Painted Terrapin females would be emerged to the beach and nesting.

Nesting beach.

We secured 92 eggs of 5 nests on December 2016. On January, 259 eggs of 16 nests. In March, we found and secured 73 eggs of 5 nests. All eggs found were incubated on hatchery was built on the beach. During nest patrol, we were also measured the daily air temperature and humidity, sands (surface and 10 cm under the surface) temperature. The measurement of temperature and humidity was conducted manually four times per day: 4 am, 10 am, 4 pm and 10 pm. The temperature and humidity on the beach is very volatile, therefore by doing this, the average value is more represented. In addition, we found and marked 3 females on the beach. All are new individuals, not marked before.

The causes of declining

If we try to compare the result of this year nest patrol with last year, the total number of eggs and nests found and secured is declining sharply. Last year, our nest patrol was successfully secured 910 eggs of 51 nests. The decreasing is about fifty percent.

There are, at least, three reasons behind this declining. First is beach erosion. The erosion has caused about half of the nesting area lost. The place where we found about half of total nest secured last year, currently is lost.

The second reason is the massive trash on the beach. It produces obstacle for female to reach the higher area on the beach for nesting.

Reasons of declining

Third reason is shrimp traps. Fishermen who met with us said to us that some terrapins die because trapped in this traps. This kind of trap is used by fishermen to catch the shrimp. The traps are laid in riverbed. Banana and coconut are used as bait. Unfortunately, this bait is favorite for terrapin. We always use this bait in our capture-recaptured survey. Fishermen are checking that traps after some hours. Therefore, once the terrapin caught by that traps, it is impossible for them to taking air and breathe. We found two females corpse that become victim of this trap.

Do the hatchlings survive after released?

Of course, the question that lie in our mind is do they survive in wild after released?. This question is also in our mind. Therefore, efforts to get evidence to answer this question have been being conducted in the field and in progress. Although it is confirmed by some accidental sightings that the post-released hatchlings – indicated by mark on marginal carapace – are basking on logs at riverside, thus can be an indicator that they are successfully survive in rivers, but that is not sufficient. More surveys are necessary. This is not only to answer that question, but is also to be a tool for evaluation of our conservation method.

Post-released sub-juvenile of Painted Terrapin

Recent years, the findings of post-released hatchlings basking on logs are common for fishermen. Fishermen who usually ride their boat are common sighting the hathclings on some particular place (riverside). They said that was not common in previous years. In our trip from village to nest patrol camp and vice versa were also successfully observed that hatchlings. Even, we were able to see their mark on marginal carapace, although we could not identify their number precisely.

The latest releasing we did was on 1 December 2016. The sub-juvenile on picture 4 was photographed on 12 March. The location of we photographed that sub-juvenile is about 3 km from releasing site on December 2016. So, perhaps, they are the sub-juvenile was released on December 2016.

This can be a positive sign that the nest patrol and headstarting method is successful to recover sub-juvenile population. For wild adult population, it must be looked at long term, at least four to eight years later.

We would like to thanks to our partner Turtle Survival Alliance, Houston Zoo and Chester Zoo who supporting our works to conserve Painted Terrapin.

You are also able to support our works. If you would like to support us, you can donate to our paypal account through this link: Support Satucita Foundation

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tagging painted terrapin

Over 400 Painted Terrapin Eggs Secured in Nest Patrol

Totally, 407 eggs of 25 nests have been secured and currently incubated at in situ hatchery, located on nesting beach, in Aceh Tamiang, Aceh, Indonesia. Since December 2016, the team of Satucita Foundation and BKSDA (Agency of Natural Resources Conservation) Province Aceh have been patrolling on the beach to secure the eggs from harvesting by some villagers and wild boar.

Although some villagers are still trying to harvest the eggs in nesting season, the cases are declining. But, the threat from wild boar (Sus scrofa) is still same. As of today, eggs of 4 nests had been eaten by wild boar before found and secured by our team. When the nesting beach has about 3 km in distance, it seems impossible to fence along the beach to secure the eggs from wild boar disturbance. Therefore, the nest patrol must be conducted annually.

painted terrapin egg
Painted Terrapin eggs eaten by wild boar. (Photo: Joko Guntoro)

 

The eggs had been secured, currently are incubated at in situ hatchery that built on the nesting beach. The hatchery is fenced by barbed wire to prevent it from wild boar disturbance. On hatchery, the nest temperature, sand moisture, air and humidity temperature were recorded four times every day. We are estimating the eggs will be started to hatch in late of March.

hatchery for Painted Terrapin
Hatchery for incubating Painted Terrapin eggs on the nesting beach. (Photo: Joko Guntoro)

Our team were usually patrolling along the beach, about 6 km in distance, every night. In particular days, the patrol was conducted two times per night when the high tides occurred at about 4 to 5 am. During these days, the low tide was still occurred at 7 to 8 pm. In this time, the emerging of Painted Terrapin female for nesting on the beach was still possible. The movement of female for nesting is determined by tidal.

Painted terrapin nest
Measuring nest characterisctics. (Photo: Joko Guntoro)

Nest characteristics – depth, width, sand moisture and temperature, air temperature and humidity – are also measured. The female found was also injected with Pit Tags for future monitoring. Every nest found on the beach was moved and reburied on the hatchery that situated about 30 meter of our nest patrol camp. The new nest has a same depth and width with the original nest. It is to ensure that there is no temperature and moisture difference between original and new nest.

tagging painted terrapin
Tagging nesting female. (Photo: Tatang YK/YSLI)

Causes of Declining

The total number of eggs secured this year is decreased compared to last year. Total number secured last year was 910 eggs of 52 nests. The declining is about 55 percent compared to last year.
That declining is very affected by some factors. First is coastal erosion. It is estimated that about fifty percent of beach that usually become a nesting site for Painted Terrapin has lost due to erosion. This is the first time since the annual nest patrol has been conducted in 2010. This massive erosion is caused by southeaster that makes heavy waves to hit the beach, so the sandy beach was moving or lost.

coastal erosion
Nesting site erosion. (photo: Joko Guntoro)

Second is caused by shrimp trap. Reports from fishermen said that some adults of Painted Terrapin, male or female, found dead because trapped in shrimp trap that used by fishermen. Fishermen are using banana or coconut as bait to capture shrimp. These baits are feed for Painted Terrapin. The trap is installed on river floor and checked by fishermen after few hours. The trouble is occurred when Painted Terrapin eating that bait and trapped, so she/he is not able to swim to the surface to breathe. Therefore, it has made the number of adult female laying nest on the beach is declining.

Painted terrapin dead
Dead female. (Photo: Joko Guntoro)

The third is massive amount of trash on the beach. The trash is dominated by logs, twigs. These made the adult female facing hard obstacle and difficulties to find the suitable place for digging nest and laying eggs. Even, some females were sighted to return to the sea immediately, after she could not find the place for digging nest and laying eggs. If she could not find the suitable location for nesting, then the best possibility was she had to move to another beach for nesting. Some female’s footprint that had to return to the sea due to hampered by logs or twigs were found on the beach. Unfortunately, our team would not be able to reach that beach because we had to crossing the estuary by boat.

beach pollution
Trash on nesting beach. (Photo: Joko Guntoro)

We would like to thank for our partner Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), Houston Zoo, Chester Zoo to support our current conservation activities on the field. (Joko Guntoro)

Painted Terrapin Released Back Into Habitat

A total of 20 hatchlings of Painted Terrapin (Batagur borneoensis), an endangered species, released back on to the original habitat, Tamiang River, District of Aceh Tamiang (12/08/2015). According to the IUCN, Painted Terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) is a critically endangered species and listed in Top World’s 25 Most Endangered Turtles at the Global Level. Continue reading “Painted Terrapin Released Back Into Habitat”

Socialization to Strengthen Community Groups to Protect Species and Habitat

Socialization and discussion to conserve Painted Terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) and habitat was held in Subdistrict Seruway on 21 October 2015. The socialization and discussion was held to strengthen the knowledge and planning of Satucita Foundation and two community group that established to protect the species. The discussion giving result that the upcoming nesting patrol, habitat rehabilitation will involve community group.

In the opening speech, Head of Subdisctrict Government of Seruway said that the conservation of this species must be supported and would like to thank to Satucita Foundation that facilitate and help locals to preserve this critically endangered species.

Meanwhile, the Head of BKSDA Langsa, Bambang Harsoyo, presented the regulation of protection on animals and plants. He also supports the Aceh Tamiang Local Government to issue a local regulation to protect this species in the district.

Joko Guntoro, program director of Painted Terrapin conservation, presented the status and distribution of this species and some scientific findings and the method to preserve wildlifes, included Painted Terrapin. In addition, the establishment of two community group was aimed to protect the species and habitat. Therefore, he aksed the commitment of the member of these groups for working together to save this species from extinction. The foundation will help and facilitate the locals to do that when the same time develop opportinities to empower villagers, such as a possibility to develop ecotourism.

In the end of discussion, member of community said that they will working together with the foundation to save the species and asked the foundation to facilitate them to protect the species and habitat, included empowerment of ex-hunters that usually take benefits from selling the eggs. The majority of member of community group is hunters that educated by the foundation to form a group to protect the species. It is expected that the groups can be developed as community ranger and take benfits from conservation in the long term.

This event was opened by opening speech by Head of Subdistrict Government of Seruway. The event was attended by 23 participants from two community group, Satucita Foundation, BKSDA Resort Langsa, Subdistrict Government of Seruway. (SF)

Public Hearing to Protect Painted Terrapin in District Aceh Tamiang

Public hearing to protect Painted Terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) in District of Aceh Tamiang was held on 15-16 September 2015 in Regent Office. The public hearing was held to seek inputs, comments on the draft of Local Regulation on Protection of Painted Terrapin in Aceh Tamiang.

The meeting was attended by head of villages around of the habitat this critically endangered species, Aceh Tamiang Fisheries Office and another stakeholders. Before the discussion, the Vice Regent present opening talk to all participants. After the opening talk, a Head of Fisheries Office presented the draft and the reason of why this species must be protected in Aceh Tamiang.

Then, Satucita Foundation’s director Joko Guntoro presented scientific findings and what the foundation have done to conserved this species in Aceh Tamiang included nesting patrol, field monitoring, awareness.

As a conclusion, participants supported the draft and hope that the protection must involve local community.

The situation of public hearing:

public hearing on painted terrapin regulation aceh tamiang

public hearing on painted terrapin regulation aceh

public hearing on painted terrapin regulation

 

Field Monitoring of Painted Terrapin

Field monitoring of wild Painted terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) have been carried out from 26 to 30 May. The monitoring was carried out with cooperation with BKSDA Aceh. During that time, 20 traps placed at 20 locations every day. So, totally, 100 point of locations were surveyed during five days. In that survey, nine individuals found. Seven are new captured, two are marked/tagged. Unfortunately, the tag has lost. So, we could not identify and determine the time of last captured of them.

Of nine individuals caught, only two are male. Another are females. So, the females are dominant of total population. Two traps also captured two pair of Painted terrapin in one trap. It was may be indicate that the pair was in mating. Moreover, the males were in sexual dichromatism. Through this monitoring, the distribution of population is can be estimated.

This finding is still compiled and analyzed with previous years survey to estimate the number and structure of wild population. (SF)

Building Villagers’ Nursery to Reforest the Habitat

Painted terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) relies on riverine vegetations, particularly Berembang (Sonneratia sp.), to live. Painted terrapin eats leaves and fruit of Berembang. This species is also exploit logs at riverine for basking. Although this critically endangered species is reported eat fish and crustaceans, the riverine vegetations are still particular. The destruction of riverine vegetations such as converted to farming, oil palm plantation will bring negative serious impact to wild population. Hundreds of hectare if riverine have been converted.

seedling of Berembang (Sonneratia sp.)
Nursery of Berembang (Sonneratia sp.) at Village Sungai Kurok III

In order support the wild population, a recovery of degradated and converted habitat is needed. About 10,000 tree of Berembang (Sonneratia sp.) will be planted. Therfore, two community group has been established and trained. These groups are from two village, Village Pusong Kapal and Sungai Kurok III. Both of these villages are the nearest or can be said as buffer zone of Painted terrapin habitat. The groups have 20 members.

Staff of our foundation visit the villager's nursery
Staff of our foundation visit the villager’s nursery

The member of group is responsible for building nursery of Berembang, planting the tree and monitoring after planting. The all process is facilitated by Satucita Foundation. The member building nursery at their backyard. Currently, the seedlings grew well. To cultivate this plant, the seedlings must be located on flooded place such as riverine.

Nursery of Berembang in Village Pusong Kapal.
Nursery of Berembang in Village Pusong Kapal.

It is expected that the seedlings will be planted on September this year. The planting is planned will involving youth, students, villagers, government. It can be said that this is the first effort to reforest the mangrove forest with Berembang. The reforestation will be developed countinuously to empower the fishermen and support Painted terrapin conservation. (SF)

Releasing Green Turtle Hatchlings

In the last three months, four sea turtles nests found on the beaches here, the same beaches to Painted terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) for laying eggs. Three nests had been harvested by fishermen before secured. Only one nest successfully secured by a fishermen who cooperated with us. So, we helped him to hatch the the eggs. Continue reading “Releasing Green Turtle Hatchlings”

Painted Terrapin is Losing Their Habitat

One of many threats to survival of Painted terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) in wild is habitat loss. Painted terrapin inhabits rivers and branches, estuaries. The destruction of riverine vegetations is believed will bring negative impact to Painted terrapin. The destruction and losing of riverine vegetations are meant losing of food and place for basking. Continue reading “Painted Terrapin is Losing Their Habitat”