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Northern Colombia’s tropical dry forest is the most threatened in the country, with only 8% of its original cover is still intact. Thirty potential properties in this region were identified and ranked in order through a Rapid Feasibility Award to establish a new protected area for the Critically Endangered Dahl’s Toad-headed Turtle. This freshwater turtle, endemic to the tropical dry forest of northern Colombia, is not known to live within any protected area across its range.
Rainforest Trust and local partner Wildlife Conservation Society-Colombia seek $253,715 to purchase and protect 297 acres that will create the Reserva Natural La Carranchina. The partner prioritized the proposed property for its confirmed presence of the Dahl’s Toad-headed Turtle as well as sufficient bodies of water to support the species. The partner has pre-negotiated purchase of the property, and there are opportunities to procure adjacent land and expand the protected area further.
*Carbon Storage figures represent estimated metric tonnes of CO2 equivalents stored in above-ground live woody biomass at the project site, as converted from Aboveground Live Woody Biomass Density data provided by the Woods Hole Research Center through climate.globalforestwatch.org.
Size: 297 acres
Key Species: Dahl’s Toad-headed Turtle (CR)
Habitat: Dry tropical forest
Threats: Agricultural encroachment
Action: Land purchase to protect Dahl’s Toad-headed Turtle
Local partner: Wildlife Conservation Society-Colombia
Financial need: $253,715
Price per Acre: $854
Carbon Stored (metric tonnes of CO2 equivalents)*:
Most of the area within the species range is degraded land, with some secondary forest remnants. Thus, the proposed protected area contains species typical of secondary dry forest.
The only endemic species known to occur is the Dahl's Toad-headed Turtle, which is not represented in any other protected area in Colombia. There are also records of other turtle and tortoise species, like Red-footed Tortoise, Tabasco Mud Turtle, Colombian Slider and Colombian Wood Turtle. Other vertebrates that could be present in the reserve include racoons, howler monkeys and wild rabbits. Some threatened species of palms may be present or can be the focus of restoration activities, such as an American oil palm (Elaeis oleifera) and Astrocaryum malybo.
Much of Colombia’s northern dry forest has been transformed for cattle farming and agriculture.
This has resulted in deforestation of the riparian vegetation and intense disturbance of the streams where Dahl's Toad-headed Turtles are found. There is an urgent need to safeguard a portion of this habitat, eliminating human activities and restoring habitat quality.
The local community in San Benito Abad is composed of non-indigenous rural peoples, whose livelihoods depend on crops of cassava and corn. Some people have small parcels of land, but most live and work on big ranches owned by inhabitants of nearby cities such as Monteria and Sincelejo.
The local community has not been involved much in the project yet, but it has been assisted by another community, Cotocá Arriba (Econbiba), located in Cordoba about two hours away from the proposed protected area. Members of Econbiba have been working on a community-based project for the conservation of the endemic and Critically Endangered Magdalena River Turtle for more than ten years. They will interact with the local community next to the protected area in San Benito Abad, and involve them in conservation activities. This will be immensely helpful as they are neighbors and have previous conservation experience.
Thanks to the generous support of our Board members and other supporters who cover all of our operating expenses, Rainforest Trust is able to allocate 100% of donations to conservation action. No board member receives financial benefit and our staff salaries are modest.
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