Conservation of the Southern River Terrapin Batagur affinis (Reptilia: Testudines: Geoemydidae) in Malaysia: a case study involving local community participation

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Pelf Nyok Chen


It is evident that the participation of the local community plays a crucial role in the success of a conservation project.  Despite initiating and leading the oldest Batagur affinis conservation project in Malaysia since 1967, which involved egg protection, head starting and reintroduction programs, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks did not involve the participation of the local community.  This study provides the first account of the involvement of local villagers in B. affinis research and conservation project in the Kemaman River, Terengganu, Malaysia.  As a result of involving this group of local villagers, the Village Development and Security Committee was recruited to be involved in the conservation project.  From 2012 to 2016, we hand captured and processed 102 post-nesting females.  The Schnabel mark-recapture method estimated at least 186 wild female B. affinis in the river.  We collected 2,542 B. affinis eggs from 205 nests for incubation, and produced 1,723 hatchlings (mean hatching success 67.8%).  Survivorship of head started B. affinis hatchlings in captivity ranged from 96.7−100 % among cohorts.  Head started hatchlings recorded a 467% increase in body mass and 90% increase in straight carapace length.  We reintroduced 1,690 B. affinis juveniles into the river.  We also initiated a symbolic adoption program to raise funds and ensure the sustainability of the conservation project.  This study proves that local communities are capable of managing their own resources, given sufficient training in conservation techniques. 

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How to Cite
Chen, P.N. 2017. Conservation of the Southern River Terrapin Batagur affinis (Reptilia: Testudines: Geoemydidae) in Malaysia: a case study involving local community participation. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 9, 4 (Apr. 2017), 10035–10046. DOI:
Author Biography

Pelf Nyok Chen, Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia

Co-founder and Project Leader Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia


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