Since 2020, WCS has been promoting the establishment of a group of experts for the study of turtles in Bolivia. This group aims to promote collective actions that contribute to the preservation of this endangered order of reptiles.
Bolivia is home to 17 species of turtles, 15 native and 2 introduced, of which 3 are terrestrial and 14 are aquatic. In 2009, the threat status of 9 of these species was evaluated for the Red Book of Bolivian Vertebrates, and it was found that two of them were threatened: Podocnemis expansa, classified as Endangered (EN), and therefore considered the most endangered turtle species in the country. The other species, P. unifilis, has been classified as Vulnerable (VU). The remaining seven species assessed were Acanthochelys macrocephala, A. pallidipectoris, Chelus fimbriata, Mesoclemmys vanderhaegei, Chelonoidis carbonarius, C. chilensis and C. denticulatus, all of which are listed as Near Threatened (NT).
In the workshop "Conservation and research priorities for turtles", held last year, the experts analyzed the threats and state of knowledge of the 15 native species of Bolivia, determining that P. unifilis, P. expansa, C. carbonarius and C. denticulatus are the species that have the greatest impact due to different human activities, both subsistence (egg extraction and hunting) and illegal (pet trade, medicinal and artisanal). Other species that are affected by pet trade and artisanal trade are C. chilensis, C. fimbriata, Kinosternon scorpioides, Phrynops geoffroanus and Platemys platycephala. On the other hand, it has been found that habitat loss has a strong pressure on the populations of all species, with Mesoclemmys vanderhaegei being the most affected due to its restricted distribution and because it lives in closer proximity to human populations and livestock and agricultural areas. It has also been determined that climate change represents a potential risk for Bolivia's 15 turtle species.
Since March of this year, the group of experts for the conservation of turtles in Bolivia has gained much more strength, and has the support of the General Directorate of Biodiversity and Protected Areas (DGBAP), in the implementation of workshops and other activities. Recently, in commemoration of World Turtle Day, from May 24th-26th, a series of conferences organized by the Ministry of Environment and Water and WCS were held, with the participation of national and international experts, who shared their experiences on river turtle management. Based on these experiences, on May 27th and 28th, a new workshop was held: "Experiences in River Turtle Management", with the purpose of generating national protocols for the management of turtle nests and juvenile turtles that will used by the environmental authority.
The results of this workshop will be decisive to carry out conservation actions that will help maintain the populations of the different turtle species in our country.