Working deep in the rainforest, far away from the hustle and bustle of cities and urban areas, certainly has its perks! Our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) team occasionally encounters animals that most people only get to see in zoos or museums. So, what special animal did our team find recently?
Orangutans are often referred to as an umbrella species, meaning that when their populations and habitats are protected, many other species that live in the same ecosystem are also protected.
One species that lives in an orangutan habitat in the Kehje Sewen Forest in East Kalimantan, Borneo, is the Asian giant tortoise (Manouria emys emys). This species can be found as far north as Bangladesh and India. However, the subspecies our PRM team recently encountered only lives in the primary lowland forests of southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo.
The Asian giant tortoise is the largest land tortoise in Asia, with a shell or carapace unique from that of other species. It has four strong, sturdy legs covered in rough scales, protecting it from thorns and countless sharp objects as it rummages through the undergrowth on the forest floor.
Staple foods for this tortoise are vegetation, but they are also known to occasionally prey on worms, snails, and other small animals. The Asian giant tortoise usually lays eggs twice a year, with 20 to 50 eggs per clutch (the term for one laying of eggs). It is also the only species of tortoise that lays its eggs in nests made of leaves on the ground instead of underneath it.
The Asian giant tortoise has been declared as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the IUCN. Therefore, its wild populations are in dire need of protection. So, let’s save this beautiful species!