Repatriation Project for the Extirpated McCord’s Snake-Necked Turtle Turtle

The McCord’s Snake-Necked Turtle (Chelodina mccordi) used to occur only on one tiny island in Indonesia, called Roti Island. Due to the pet trade and habitat loss, this species has been completely extirpated in the wild. Now in cooperation with the Vienna Zoo, Turtle Island sent the first 20 captive-bred hatchlings to the Singapore Zoo where they are being professionally cared for until their re-introduction.

In 1994, the McCord’s Snake-Necked turtle (Chelodina mccordi) was first described as a new species and was found only on one tiny island in Indonesia, called Roti Island. As a newly described species, the demand sharply increased in the international pet trade; and within just a few years, the vulnerable population was on the brink of extinction in the wild.

Habitat loss from the destruction of wetlands to farming caused even more pressure on the species, and now the species is officially declared as extinct in the wild. Amazingly, on this small island, there is still some intact habitat that has been preserved, and so reintroduction of captive-bred animals is possible. In cooperation with the Wildlife Conservation Society, three European zoos (Nordic Ark, Sweden, Wilhelma Zoo and Münster Zoo, both in Germany) and private breeders, a reintroduction project was launched.

Fortunately, this snake-necked turtle is easy to breed; only the rearing of hatchlings is difficult, as the young animals initially take only live food. With the logistical support of the Vienna Zoo, Turtle Island sent the first 20 hatchlings of Ch. mccordi to the Singapore Zoo, where they will be cared for until they are ready for repatriation. To avoid the introduction of pathogens, these hatchlings are reared without contact with other zoo animals (bio-secure). We are pleased that all hatchlings arrived in Singapore in good shape and are doing great!

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