We had unparalleled success in the 2017 breading season with 118 hatchlings of the Critically Endangered Northern River Terrapin (Batagur baska)! We were able to obtain this record number of offspring from 5 of our 8 females that are located in our two breeding stations in Bangladesh. We are pleased to report that all of the hatchlings are healthy and are growing rapidly.
Years of successful breeding seasons of Batagur baska in Bangladesh were followed by a disastrous last year. Ants drilled into 40 fertile B. baska eggs and consumed all the developing embryos of a species already on the brink of extinction. In addition, since 2016 at our initial facility in Bhawal National Park, one of our 2 breeding groups did not produce any eggs. We knew we needed to make a change so we moved the entire breeding group of 3 males and 4 females south to a crocodile breeding station in Karamjal. A spacious nesting beach was built in collaboration with the Schönbrunn Zoo and the Turtle Survival Alliance (USA). Turtles can often be suspicious of changes in their environment so we were very pleased when in the new beach was accepted by the females. Two of the four females produced huge clutches of 31 and 32 eggs, from which 57 beautiful hatchlings emerged. We were able to combat the ant issue of last year and in Bhawal National Park an additional 61 hatchlings emerged from three clutches. In the beginning of our project, just a few years ago, the scientific community knew of only 7 live specimens of this species. Today we are so pleased to report that the species is on the road to recovery with approximately 500 animals. Thus, the Batagur baska conservation-breeding project is one of the most successful species conservation projects in the entire South Asia!