Abstract

The long-necked turtle Chelodina mccordi is considered Critically Endangered under IUCN Red List criteria. In Timor-Leste, the subspecies Chelodina mccordi timorensis is restricted to a small area of lacustrine habitat near the eastern tip of Timor around Lake Iralalaro in the Lautém District. We collected information on C. m. timorensis biology and harvest and assessed current threats and community perceptions. Data were collected during 2 surveys (February and July 2014) around Lake Iralalaro in Nino Konis Santana National Park. Threats were identified by direct observation, and local perceptions were recorded during expert interviews. Human harvest is the main threat in the area. Animals are captured using fishing line, are located using a bamboo stick in shallow water to probe the mud, or are captured by hand at the edge of the lake or under dry grass. Turtles are captured mainly during the dry season (April to October). Most experts identified C. m. timorensis under 2 different names according to the color (staining) of the plastron (veu = yellow and clear; sepe veu = dark and red). Local perspectives as to the population status of the turtle (stable, declining, or increasing) varied between 2 villages. Factors that may be reducing the capacity of this turtle to survive human harvest include predation by pigs and dogs. Fire and climate change are also likely to be important factors resulting in declines.

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