‘Go be happy’: Thousands of baby river turtles released in Peruvian jungle

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Activists release nests of river turtles onto volcanic slopes to raise their chances of survival in wild after owners are wiped out

‘Go be happy’: Thousands of baby river turtles released in Peruvian jungle

About 3,000 baby river turtles had to be released in the Peruvian jungle after they found the eggs they were born in were all killed by poaching gangs, campaigners have said.

The 22 March release took place at Lake Titicaca, on the country’s northern border with Bolivia.

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The National Irrigation and Water Authority (Canepa) said none of the juveniles were found to be with any parasites or diseases, the organisations’s Rachael Collins said.

“These are unique turtles,” she told the Guardian. “The fastest ones can reach 100km per hour. It’s important to protect the species so they have a good chance to survive in the wild.”

River turtles can grow up to a metre long and are released in groups so their mothers can catch them.

The release was organised by CANEPA, the Peruvian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and Impact Peru, an environmental NGO.

The river turtles were reared by local children using clean water from Lake Titicaca and panga horses, according to local reports.

Intensive cleaning and sand scooping by local farmers at lake edges have helped to cut the number of turtle nests being removed, according to local media.

The release comes after Peru’s Environment Ministry said only some 110 turtles were found in the area last year, compared with about 300 the previous year.

The deforestation of the Pampulambucá national park in Pampulambucá province – which kills off the river turtles’ natural range – was in contrast to a regional study which said the zone had had a 25% increase in turtle numbers in 2017, according to the RPP radio network.

Millions of sea turtles nest on the Peruvian coast each year, according to official figures. Peruvian turtles are also protected under the Marine Biodiversity Convention.

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