IQUITOS, Peru: Some 3,000 baby river turtles native to the Amazon rainforest were released Thursday into a Peruvian river after hatching eggs kept on man-made beaches as part of a conservation effort.
River turtles are considered “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and have been killed for many years for human consumption or kept as pets.
“The importance lies in the conservation of the species in the region because it has already been threatened for a long time,” said Sabrina Pipa, a biologist who works on the protection of freshwater turtles.
âThe objective is the repopulation of the species. The turtles have the scientific name Podocnemis unifilis, but Peruvians call them taricayas. They are speckled with yellow and the babies are only a few inches tall.
Peru has the second largest share of the Amazon rainforest after Brazil.
Scientists agree that conserving the Amazon rainforest is vital to preventing catastrophic climate change due to its ability to absorb greenhouse gases.
But in the past two decades, more than 19,700 square kilometers (7,600 square miles) of the Peruvian Amazon have been destroyed.
Pipa said the taricaya project started in 2019 and protected around 6,000 river turtles, in addition to those conserved this year.
People gathered in the town of Iquitos to see baby turtles descend a river beach into the water.
âGo! Go, be happy!â Chanted a spectator.