Roti Island Snake-necked Turtle or McCords Long-necked Turtle (Chelodina mccordi timorlestensis)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 13256576
The Long-necked turtle Chelodina mccordi is critically endangered under the IUCN red list criteria. The Timor-Leste subspecies (Chelodina mccordi timorensis) is restricted to a small area of lacustrine habitat near the eastern tip of Timor in the Lake Iralalaro, Lautém District.
The Projetu Lenuk Lorosa’e aims to collect vital information about the biology of C. mccordi for future research and management actions, while bringing awareness about the status of this species at a local and national level.
Data was collected during two surveys along the Lake Iralalaro (Nino Konis Santana National Park). Threats were identified by direct observation and during local community meetings. Human harvest is the main threat in the area. Factors that may be reducing the capacity of this turtle to survive in the face of human harvest include habitat modification by buffalo and cattle and nest predation by pigs and dogs.
Fire is also likely to be an important factor causing decline. During the dry season, turtles reportedly aestivate in tall grass or stay in the shallow waters of the Lake. Human-induced fire around the lake edges is likely to kill turtles or expose them to predators. Climate change may also play an important role in modifying harvest pressure.Major turtle harvest events, where groups of locals travel to the Lake and attempt to harvest many turtles at once, are restricted to extremely dry years when the Lake recedes to its minimum level. A drier climate would increase the number of major harvest events and decrease turtle harvest relief years such as 2013, when high water levels prevented intense harvest.
During this first phase we (1) raised awareness about the Critically Endangered status of C. mccordi in local communities; (2) provided environmental educational materials for teachers locally (3) collected essential data to initiate a long term monitoring project that can be continued by the community and park staff; and (4) trained park rangers and national students that can potentially continue their studies researching this species.
Project 13256576 location - Timor-Leste (East Timor), Asia