May 23 is World Turtle Day, celebrating the oldest living reptiles in the world. The day shines a spotlight on the care, conservation and awareness of turtles.
Since 2015, through a joint initiative between the University of Canberra and funding support from ExxonMobil PNG, the Nature Park was involved in world-first research measuring the growth rates of the pig-nosed turtle species. The ‘Head Start’ program for Pig-nosed turtles or ‘Piku’ turtles is the first of its kind in PNG. Aimed at slowing the disappearance of Pig-nosed turtles from the wildlife.
The pig-nosed turtles are currently classified as endangered under the IUCN status.
In 2019, Port Moresby Nature Park pioneered the release of the first fifteen of these endangered pig-nosed turtles, and in 2020, released the last twenty-seven (27), back into the Kikori River, Wau Creek Conservation Area, PNG.
The turtles were at Port Moresby Nature Park for 4 years as part of the ‘Head-start program’. They arrived as week old turtle hatchlings, with only a 1% chance of survival in the wild.
Port Moresby Nature Park is proud to have headed the Pig-nosed Turtle Head Start Program in partnership with the University of Canberra to give 42 ambassador pig-nosed turtle hatchlings a much higher chance of survival (from 1% to 30%) when they were released back to the Kikori River Basin Area.
Today we are reminded about the importance of turtles and the need to work on issues including sustainable harvesting and environmental pollution to ensure that our PNG turtles will be around for many future generations.
The Park continues its vision is to inspire in others the guardianship of PNG’s unique biodiversity.
Did You Know?
The pig-nosed (PIKU) Turtles are one of a few animals that out-lived Dinosaurs!!
You can see one at the Reptile Haus in your next visit.