On Saturday over 600 baby turtles that were rescued from flooding earlier this year were released into their natural habitat. The turtles were released at the Annual turtle festival, held in Yupukari Village, North Rupununi. The event returned this year after a two-year hiatus. It is aimed at educating the public on the protection of the remaining turtle population, highlighting conservation issues, providing educational information on dealing with wildlife, and providing vital information on ongoing turtle conservation projects.
Turtles are considered a delicacy for their meat which is rich in protein and fat. Over the years, over-harvesting along with flooding of nesting sites have led to the decline of the turtle population.
The event kicked start at 8:00h on Saturday with a march into the village by conservation groups accompanied by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’S) carrying colourful banners displaying conservation messages. After the march into the village, persons in attendance were given the opportunity to visit several booths set up at the event to learn about ongoing conservation projects and join wildlife clubs. There was also a library where books on animals found within the North Rupununi District were available.
Around 13:00h, the event expanded to include debates on conservation issues by different conservation groups, impromptu speeches, quizzes, and educational outdoor games.
The highlight of the event took placed around 16:00h when the baby turtles were released into their natural habitat. The late-night release was chosen to allow the baby turtles the best time to avoid predators.
The event was supported by Caiman house a nonprofit NGO, Sustainable Wildlife Management, The North Rupununi District Development Board and the South Rupununi Conservation Society, in collaboration with the government and the Yupukari Village Council.