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Rare Turtle Known For Permanent Smile Has Been Brought Back From Extinction

Rare Turtle Known For Permanent Smile Has Been Brought Back From Extinction

A rare turtle known for its permanent smile has been brought back from the brink of extinction after 20 years.

Conservationists certainly have reason to celebrate after growing the population of Burmese roofed turtle - a giant Asian river turtle.

Credit: Steven Platt/Wildlife Conservation Society
Credit: Steven Platt/Wildlife Conservation Society

Over two decades ago the species was presumed extinct and now there are nearly 1,000 of the little fellas in captivity. Some have been successfully released into the wild in Myanmar.

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Steven G. Platt, a herpetologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, told the New York Times: "We came so close to losing them. If we didn't intervene when we did, this turtle would have just been gone."

Back in 2001, researchers found the shell of a recently killed turtle in a village along the Dokhtawady River in Myanmar and the researchers were encouraged to find populations.

Credit: Steven Platt/Wildlife Conservation Society
Credit: Steven Platt/Wildlife Conservation Society

The only problem was that there were only around 10 adult females surviving in the wild at the time. At the time Mr Platt told Mongabay: "The biggest threat is that there are so few left in the wild and so if there's an accident we've lost a big chunk of the population.

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"Otherwise it's mostly fishing. I worry about them getting entangled in fishing gear and drowning. And if we didn't monitor, the eggs would be collected."

Earlier this year, new figures revealed the platypus could end up on the 'brink of extinction'.

Platypus populations have at least halved since Europeans settled in to Australia, while dam building, land clearing and other disruptions have caused even more to die off.

A study published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation suggests that if more isn't done to help save platypus habitats then they could be wiped out altogether.

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Platypus swimming. Credit: PA
Platypus swimming. Credit: PA

The researchers have looked at climate change projections for the next 50 years and reckon platypus populations could decline as much as 73 percent. The animals thrive in waterways and if predictions for the global climate come true, then there will be a hell of a lot less water for them to live in.

Lead author on the study Gilad Bino, a researcher at the University of NSW's Centre for Ecosystem Science, said: "These dangers further expose the platypus to even worse local extinctions with no capacity to repopulate areas.

"We are not monitoring what we assume to be a common species. And then we may wake up and realise it's too late."

Featured Image Credit: Steven Platt/Wildlife Conservation Society

Topics: News, Animals

Rebecca Shepherd

I'm Becky - a journalist at LADbible. I graduated with a First Class BA in Journalism before going on to cover criminal court cases, medical tribunals and breaking news for the national media - which inevitably and eventually became as glum as it sounds. Can often be found rocking a bag for life - which I made a 'thing' way before Rihanna. You can contact me at [email protected]