Over 600 yellow-spotted river turtles released at Sand Creek turtle festival
A Sand Creek Village, Region Nine (Upper Takatu- Upper Essequibo) turtle festival last Saturday saw 600 yellow-spotted river turtles being released into the Rupununi River.
The festival saw the participation of over 150 students from the communities of Sand Creek, Rununau, Shulinab, Parikwarinau, Potarinau, Katoonarib, Sawariwau.
The highlight of the event was the release of the turtles which were saved earlier this year by Sand Creek rangers, through a conservation project being facilitated by the South Rupununi Conservation Society under the Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme.
The Programme Coordinator, Neal Millar, said the importance of the festival “raise awareness about the importance of conservation and about looking after our turtle population.”
This project is a move to revitalise the species which was being reduced due to overharvesting in South Rupununi. The meat of the turtle is widely enjoyed in these communities, hence, the numbers were declining.
The festival was held for the second consecutive year and started off with a banner procession by participating communities. There were also booths with information, games and prizes. The games were informative, one of which included the showing of wildlife animals found in Rupununi and naming them by either their English or Indigenous names. Also, there were performances in the form of poems and skits that were based on turtle conservation.
At the end of the events, the turtles were released. “We moved to a nearby landing of the river where we released the over 600 of the turtles. Every child got to pick up at least one. We told them to give it a name and they released the turtles,” Millar said.
He explained that all the turtles couldn’t be released at the same spot. Hence, the remainder of the turtles will be released by the rangers. In March 2022, rangers from Sand Creek rescued over 1,000 turtle eggs from the Rupununi River before they were destroyed by flooding.
The festival was funded by the Frankfurt Zoological Society in collaboration with the Protected Areas Commission, the Rupununi Livestock Producers Association and the Regional Democratic Council in Region Nine.