Researchers were very concerned that this turtle species would become extinct until a live specimen was purchased in a Chinese wildlife market and fell into the hands of an American turtle collector in the early 2000s.
Following a huge conservation project in Myanmar, researchers can now confirm that the captive population is rapidly approaching 1000 turtles, meaning the species is less at risk of complete extinction.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Turtle Survival Alliance recently released a series of photos showing newly hatched Myanmar roofed turtles emerging from eggs at a secure breeding facility in Limpha village of Sagaing region of Myanmar. The images accompanying the first scientific description of the species’ juveniles have now been published in the journal Zootaxa.
The Myanmar roofed turtle (Batagur trivittata) is known for its distinctive smiling mouth, bulging eyes and characteristic upturned snout. Females of this species are muted and significantly larger than males, while smaller males are brightly colored. Especially during mating season they may show some light green and yellow colors.
Once living in Myanmar’s rivers, this turtle species has faced many threats due to over-hunting and egg exploitation.
Although there have been hundreds of smiley-faced turtle hatchlings in recent years, they have all been raised in captivity as part of a breeding program and the species still struggles to survive in the wild.