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Turtles in Colombia

The Dahl's toad-headed turtle is only found in the forest streams of Colombia and is now tragically globally endangered.

The problem

The turtle is named after Swedish-born Colombian scientist George Dahl

Dahl’s toad-headed turtle is sadly threatened with extinction because of the decline of the quality of its forest home and its limited distribution. The tropical dry forest where they are found has been subjected to increasing destruction, fragmentation and alteration for human activities. Little is known about where the turtles live and they are not formally protected across their narrow range meaning a devastating ongoing loss of the species.

The solution

We are funding the Turtle Survival Alliance and Wildlife Conservation Society to produce biological information about this poorly known endemic species. This can then be used to implement urgent conservation actions on the ground to protect the turtles.

Over the last five years we have been monitoring a population of Dahl’s toad-headed turtles, studying habitat requirements and movement patterns using VHF Radio telemetry. These studies have allowed us to understand more about what the turtles need to thrive and what areas to urgently protect. We have also been working with the community, particularly with kids in public schools to raise awareness about the endemic character of this species and the importance of its dry forest home.

The next phase of our work will start with restoring the habitat along the streams in one of the few known populations of the species. The second main objective is to find further populations of turtles as predicted by our earlier studies. This will help us to improve our understanding of its global abundance, determine threats to remaining turtles and identify good areas for conservation.

This ongoing work is slowly but surely helping us to save this wonderfully unique turtle.

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