Every now and again, the MCSS Research Officer gets called out to deal with a turtle rescue … in this case, a terrapin!
“J.Lo”, the first known record of a Yellow-Bellied Mud Turtle in the Plantation Wetland, photo Elke Talma.
“J.Lo” was found by Jan Van Wijk, a South African, wandering on the road near Plantation Club along the West coast of Mahe. He phoned Leo Hoevers, a Dutchman, who runs a dive centre at Anse La Mouche. Leo called Glynis Sanders, a Scot who is married to David, a Welshman who is the Chairman of MCSS. Glynis called Elke, a Seychellois who then rushed over to investigate.
Not being a terrapin expert, Elke took the animal back to the MCSS office and spent some time on the internet trying to ID the Species. “J.Lo”, named after her rescuers (J for Jan and Lo for Leo), is a Seychelles Yellow-Bellied Mud Turtle (Pelusios castanoides intergularis) a sub species of P. castanoides which is found on mainland Africa ranging from Kenya to the north eastern Republic South Africa. The species which is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN 2008 Red List, is restricted to 6 islands of the Seychelles group, with 4 breeding populations remaining.
In 2005, it was estimated that there were only 120 adults in the wild and legal protection of wetland habitats is urgently required as populations continue to decline due to ongoing marsh drainage and river canalization.