Researchers believe that there may have been only 3,000 Philippine forest turtles left in the wild. That was until mid-June when rescuers became aware of over 4,000 turtles being held in a massive shipping crate. About 3,800 of the 4,000 were the rare forest turtles.
The crate was housed in a Chinese-own Philippine warehouse.
The Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), along with other turtle rescue alliances, worked tirelessly to save the endangered turtles from their unspeakable holding cell. According to the TSA blog, the turtles were obviously in rough shape.
“3,800 critically endangered Philippine Forest Turtles (Siebenrockiella leytensis) confiscated in a Chinese warehouse in Palawan and in need of immediate assistance. The images were shocking, sickening: turtles being moved by the truckload to a rescue center not prepared to hold them. Injuries were obvious. Turtles were dying. There was chaos and nerves were frazzled.”
As the Dodo reports, over 2,000 of the rescued turtles were able to be released soon after their discovery. The remaining turtles, numbering about 1,000, were categorized from fair to poor health.
While death was inevitable for some turtles, the teams of rescuers have seen a lowering number of fatalities once treatments were administered. The turtles that remained behind were treated for a number of health issues, including bone infections, eye problems, emaciation, dehydration, and septicemia.
On June 30, TSA announced that the number of injured turtles was down to just 500. On July 7, it was announced via Facebook that that number had gone done to just 246 turtles. Overall, the teams of rescuers managed to save and release over 3,000 turtles.
Those that remain are being well taken care of at the Katala Institute for Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation’s facility.
“Turtles are set up in temporary ponds for isolation and close monitoring, and are being tended to by a dedicated team of vet techs and KIEBC employees. Vet techs, Sheena Koeth and Allyson Lee are still on site representing the TSA and are staying busy treating shell and eye infections.”
Officials believe that due to the size and age of the turtles, they were poached from their natural habitat and not bred in captivity.
Philippine forest turtles aren’t the only species facing extinction; creatures as big as polar bears also fight for survival. It makes us stop and wonder if humans are to blame. Many people would say yes.
However, the story is a good one for the Philippine forest turtles. Though, they may still be critically endangered, it looks like there are more of them than previously thought.
[Images via Turtle Survival Alliance]