Tue, May 07, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Rare turtle habitat threatened: official

ENDANGERED:To prevent poaching of the species, Feitsui Reservoir’s director said that the catchment area should be designated for wildlife protection

Staff writer, with CNA

A man holds an endangered yellow-margined box turtle (Cuora flavomarginata) in an undated photograph provided by the Taipei Feitsui Reservoir Administration.

Photo: CNA

The Feitsui Reservoir (翡翠水庫), a habitat of the endangered yellow-margined box turtle, should be designated as a wildlife protection area, Taipei Feitsui Reservoir Administration director Liou Ming-lone (劉銘龍) said.

The Cuora flavomarginata, or yellow-margined box turtle, is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, which means its population levels are “critical,” Liou said.

Thanks to long-term studies that tracked the species, wildlife researchers have confirmed that the reservoir’s catchment area has the world’s most stable population of the yellow-margined box turtle, Liou said.

Since the water in the reservoir is mainly for household and public use, activities such as fish release, fishing and boating are prohibited in the catchment area, he said.

However, to prevent poaching, Liou suggested that the area be designated as a wildlife protection area.

The reservoir, which spans the Sindian River (新店溪), southeast of Taipei, began storing and serving water to metropolitan Taipei in 1987. It has a catchment area of 303km2, he said.

As the government has aggressively promoted wildlife conservation in recent years, the catchment area has become a paradise for animals, Liou added.

He expressed hope that an area of about 1,250 hectares could be demarcated as a wildlife protection area.

The habitats of the turtle around the country have been destroyed and poaching has become worse, Liou said, adding that the government should take measures to prevent further losses.

According to official statistics, the government seized 3,646 smuggled yellow-margined box turtles between August 2006 and July last year.

The species, which has a long lifespan, usually takes more than 10 years to become mature and its birth rate is low, Liou added.

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