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Philippine Forest Turtle Project

The Philippine forest turtle (Heosemys leytensis) is one of the most endangered turtle species in the world. It is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN (IUCN 2003). The Philippine forest turtle is included in Appendix II of the CITES convention (CITES 2002). According to current data, this taxon faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future due to lack of basic data on this species, habitat alteration, and illegal rampant trade. It is found only in Palawan, a large, pristine, mostly unexplored island, and a hotspot for biodiversity and conservation needs. The Philippine forest turtle was believed to be extinct, however, a few live specimens were observed in Situ in 2001 and 2003 in northern Palawan, Philippines. Very little is known about the Philippine forest turtle's distribution, habitat type, biology, ecology, or status. Our project is addressing the distribution, status, and conservation of the Philippines forest turtle. If no immediate action is taken, then the Philippine forest turtle could well become extinct in the very near future.

Current status: Critically Endangered Species;
Our future status objective: Not an endangered species!

  • To organize trainings whose tasks include turtle survey techniques, conservation, and status of the Philippine forest turtle and its fragile habitat, as well as technical and scientific tasks including use of the geographic information system.

  • To conduct a comprehensive assessment with the best scientific techniques of the distribution and status of the critically endangered Philippine forest turtle in Palawan, Philippines; in the mean time, a global assessment of all the freshwater turtle species of Palawan will be carried out.

  • To propose core conservation areas and measures, in conjunction with the Palawan Council of Sustainable Development, Palawan State University, local groups, and The Palaw'an and Bolobog Tribes to conserve viable populations of the Philippine forest turtle and its habitat.

  • To stop illegal trade of the Philippines forest turtle through identification of local suppliers and key illegal shipment centers, conducting participative educational programs in conjunction with such identification, as well as promoting sustainable alternative incomes.

  • To provide sustainable alternative incomes for low income families illegally trading the Philippine forest turtle.

ESI staff conducting conservation awareness campaign and local interviews to save the Philippine forest turtle.

A creek inhabited by the endangered Philippine forest turtle.

LAST NEWS: ESI released the first book on the Freshwater Turtles of the Philippines (year: 2014; 75 pages; ISBN 978-971-95970-0-1). The Philippines is home to six native freshwater turtles including one endemic and four threatened by human activities. This book provides essential information for all freshwater turtle species including range maps, habitat, diet, and threats, and representative photos of all species and their habitat uses rich captivating illustrations and great photos taking in the field. A great little book for children and adults.
To order the book, contact us here!

Click here to view those who are contributing to the Philippine forest turtle project!

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