Approximately 3,000 baby turtles native to the Amazon rainforest were released into the Peruvian river on Thursday after hatching from eggs raised on artificial beaches as part of conservation efforts.
River turtles have been classified as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and have been killed for human consumption or kept as pets for many years.
“It’s important to protect the species in the area, because it’s been threatened for a long time,” says Sabrina Pipa, a biologist who deals with the protection of freshwater turtles.
“The purpose is to re-grow the seeds.”
The scientific name for turtles is Podocnemisunifilis, but the Peruvians call them Tarikaya. They are spotted in yellow and babies measure only a few inches.
Peru has the second largest share of the Amazon rainforest after Brazil.
Scientists agree that the ability to absorb greenhouse gases makes it essential to conserve the Amazon rainforest to avoid catastrophic climate change.
However, over the last two decades, more than 19,700 square kilometers (7,600 square miles) of the Peruvian Amazon have been destroyed.
Pipa said the Tarikaya project started in 2019 and protected about 6,000 turtles in addition to those preserved this year. 4,444 people gathered in the town of Iquitos and saw baby turtles move down the beach of the river into the water.
“Go! Be happy!” Chanted the audience.