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Tortoise and Fresh water turtle field skill training course in Myanmar

Conservation International's Indo-Myanmar Program (CI) and the Vietnam-based Asian Turtle Program (ATP) ran a tortoise and freshwater turtle field skill training course at Yadanabon Zoo in Mandalay and at Minsonetaung Wildlife Sanctuary in Mandalay Division on November 14-20, , 2007. The course was attended by a diverse group of 21 participants, including park rangers, zoo staff, lecturers and PhD candidates. With a mix of taught instruction and hands on practical experience, the captive facilities at Yadanabon Zoo and the natural habitat of the critically endangered Myanmar Star Tortoise (Geochelone platynota) at Minsonetaung Wildlife Sanctuary provided an excellent setting for the training.

The course, which has now run for three years in Vietnam and two in Cambodia , is designed to introduce trainees to practical field research skills with a focus on conservation. Components include scientific research methodologies and study design, turtle identification, measuring and mapping, documenting of field records, nesting and reproduction, interview and field survey techniques.




Above: Trainees receive certificates for participation

The captive facilities at Yadanabon Zoo allowed students to work hands on with some turtle species during the turtle identification exercise. This allowed them to see for themselves some of the key diagnostic characteristics used to identify the 26 species native to Myanmar.

Above: Trainees handle an endemic and critically endangered Arakan Forest Turtle (Heosemys depressa)

After a morning of lectures and roll play to learn valuable interview techniques these skills were put into practice at a village near Minsonetaung Wildlife Sanctuary.

Above: Interviews conducted by trainees

During practical field survey training aquatic turtle traps were set in a lake at Minsonetaung Wildlife Sanctuary. Amazingly, two Myanmar flap-shell turtles (Lissemys scutata) were caught in a single trap, perhaps lured by the unusual bait of a boiled egg. These turtles are endemic to Myanmar are believed to have been released in the after confiscation.

Above: Endemic Myanmar Flap-shell Turtles (Lissemys scutata) caught during field skill training section

Above: Section of lake where turtles caught

Above: one of the Myanmar Flap-shell turtles caught


The trainee's learned how to complete field records for turtles they encounter in the wild, collecting valuable information on the turtles and the habitat in which they are encountered.

Above: Trainee's competing field records

A section on nesting and reproduction at Minsonetaung Wildlife Sanctuary was perfectly timed to coincide with nesting of a Myanmar Star Tortoise at the sanctuary's captive breeding facility. Six eggs were laid and protected insitu for incubation.

Above: Myanmar Star Tortoise (Geochelone platynota) laying six eggs in Minsonetaung Wildlife Sanctuary

Project Team

David Emmett , Conservation International (CI)

Tim McCormack, Research Coordinator, Asian Turtle Program (ATP)

U Myint Aung, Program Manager, Smithsonian Institution/Conservation International,

Daw Thandar Kyi, Administrative Officer, Smithsonian Institution/Conservation International


Download this press release PDF here: English



Thank you:


Support for the training course was provided by Conservation International, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the European Association of Zoo's and Aquariums (EASA) Shellshock Campaign

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For more information please contact:

Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Cleveland Metoparks Zoo,
Office: Room#1302, Thanh Cong Tower, 57 Lang Ha Street,
Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Vietnam

Tel: +84 (0) 4 3514 9750
Fax: +84 (0) 4 3519 0383




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Asian Turtle Program - Indo Myanmar Conservation
Room#1806 CT1, C14 Bac Ha Building, To Huu Street, Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
PO Box 46
Phone:+84 (0)4 7302 8389

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