River turtle stories

To increase our knowledge on reproductive and movement of freshwater reptiles, in the second half of 2016 a project was initiated to study the “Home range and nesting ecology of the river turtle (Podocnemis lewyana) through the use of telemetry” within the middle Magdalena river region. Data was collected using telemetry techniques and home range and seasonal movements were quantified for the first time for the endemic species P. lewyana (Alzate-Estrada et al. 2020).

Podocnemis lewyana basking during the day. Photo: Viviana Cartagena.

Our history with this river turtle dates back to 2011, when the GHA started an environmental education and monitoring program of freshwater turtles and Spectacled caiman (caimán de anteojos) in four streams located in the middle Magdalena area near to the towns of Puerto Berrio in Antioquia and Carare in Santander.


Tracking babillas (Caiman crocodilus) in tributaries of the Magdalena river in department of Santander. Photo: Viviana Cartagena.

During this time, valuable ecological and demographic information was collected on the river turtle allowing us to categorize the species as critically endangered (CR) according to IUCN categories (Morales-Betancourt et al. 2015). Demographic information and life hisotry data was also published (Páez et al. 2015).

Tracking an individual of Podocnemis lewyana through the Magdalena river. Photo: Diego Alzate

The story continues and we hope to add more information in the near future aiming to make better conservation decisions for this wonderful but highly threatened Magdalena treasure.