A major goal is to strengthen the wild population of these turtles. Hopefully all 44 eggs will produce hatchlings, which are expected to come out of their shells in early June.
At that point, the researchers will transfer the young turtles to large pools located in a fenced outdoor compound at their basecamp: Camp Batagur, located in Limpha Village on the upper part of Chindwin River. The location is incredibly remote.
RELATED: Iron Age Skeletons Found Buried With Turtles
“You won’t find Limpha on any map,” explained Platt. “It’s a tiny village — 34 dwellings, not all of which are inhabited. There is no road access, no electricity or other amenities.”
When the hatchlings become adults in about four to five years, they will be released back into the river, where it is hoped they will continue to grow and strengthen the wild population. The WCS is working to help restore the riverine system, to benefit not only the turtles, but also other animals in the area and the villagers.
It is suspected that Burmese roofed turtles can live very long lives, so studies on them could shed light on longevity in the animal kingdom. Because their reproductive rates are very slow, restoring their numbers in the wild will take many years of hard work.
“You know, I often borrow a quote from the Duke of Wellington when people ask me about our struggle to save this turtle,” Platt said. “After Waterloo someone asked the Duke to describe the battle. He simply replied, ‘It was a damn close-run thing.’ Our fight to save the Burmese roofed turtle has been, and continues to be, a damn close-run thing.”
WATCH: Dinosaur Eggs Found: What Can We Learn From Them?