Just three months apart from the previous hatchling (YaPeDi), the Katala Foundation, Inc. (KFI) has now an additional Palawan Forest Turtle making their captive bred Siebenrockiella leytensis to a total of seven.
On July 31, Palawan Forest Turtle No. 482’s lone egg hatched at Katala Institute for Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation (KIEBC) in the Municipality of Narra, Palawan where Katala Foundation holds the only assurance colony for the species. Dr. Sabine Schoppe, the director of KFI’s Palawan Freshwater Turtle Conservation Program (PFTCP) named the newly hatched turtle “Shiela” after the turtle keeper who first took care of the parents, PFT Nos. 482 and 183, and then the egg.
According to Shiela Mae Cetenta, assistant keeper in KIEBC who works under the PFTCP, it was around 11 am of the said date when she saw that the egg had hatched. The hatchling measured 41mm.
Currently, the young bakoko – how freshwater turtles are called in Cuyunon – is placed in an aquarium and will stay there for a month or two before it will be moved into a larger outdoor area, Cetenta added. The new hatchling is fed with a fresh fish meat daily, either early in the morning or in the late afternoon. After a month, feeding frequency will be reduced. The conservation efforts of KFI are funded by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
The Palawan Forest Turtle, commonly called as Pagong is endemic to Palawan, originally abundant in the northern part of the province, and critically endangered due to overexploitation for the illegal wildlife trade. The parents of the baby forest turtle were confiscated in El Nido many years ago.
Aside from Palawan Forest Turtles, KIEBC is also home to Southeast Asian Box Turtles Cuora amboinensis and Asian Leaf Turtle Cyclemys dentata that were turned over.