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For tortoise, terrapin and turtle care and conservation

2009 APPEAL: Help Homeless Hatchlings - New Nursery Needed. (From Newsletter 186)

The CARAPAX centre, (located in the Tuscan hills in Italy), created in 1989 with European funds, is aiming to protect and reproduce specimens of Tortoises from the Mediterranean basin. The Visitors Centre of 15Ha, with a nature reserve of 35Ha, has already succeeded in saving thousands of reptiles and thousands of tortoises have been returned to their natural environment in Tunisia, Morocco, France, Greece and Italy.

Carapax from the air

At the CARAPAX biological station, scientific research takes place in the fields of ecology, population dynamics, botany, veterinary research, ethnology and genetics. Several valuable scientific papers and books have been published as a result. Many turtles have been rehomed in Tuscany through the BCG airlift to CARAPAX. This initiative, run for almost ten years so effectively by the BCG red eared Terrapin subcommittee team has enabled many unwanted turtles to have the opportunity to live out their days in a safe, natural environment, cared for by Donato Ballasina and his dedicated staff. The BCG also helped to fund the new take Louisiana specifically designed for these turtles.

Donato Ballasina, Director of CARAPAX, has again asked for our help; this time it is for the tortoises in his care. There is a pressing need to have a new greenhouse in which to house the hatchlings from the species; T.h. hermanni, T.h. boettgeri, T.h.pelopponesica, T.h. hercegovinensis and Testudo graeca graeca, T.g.ibera, T.g. Whitei as well as Testudo marginata and Testudo kleinmanni.

The weather and age has taken its toll on a 15 year old wooden nursery for hatchlings and young tortoises, and the structure has been demolished. In order to continue to provide a positive environment for young hatchlings a new 'glasshouse' at the heart of the centre is planned.

Greenhouse Plans

The proposed Nursery for Hatchling Tortoises

The plans for the new housing have been drawn up:

There are 2 sides; both with 8 separate compartments.

The left side will host some 250 400 hatchlings of Testudo hermanni hermanni from areas of Central Italy.

The right side will host hatchlings of more Southern forms of Testudo: Testudo hermanni boettgeri, Testudo hermanni hercegovinensis, Testudo hermanni hermanni from the Islands Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica plus Testudo marginata and T. weisingeri.

A third wing, which will be completely separate, will host hatchlings and sub adult forms of Testudo graeca: T.g.graeca, T.g.terrestris, T.g. nabeulensis, T.g. whitei, all present already in CARAPAX and in urgent need of the protection of a nursery.

The cost will be quite high: the basic nursery will cost some 23,000 Euros, while the extra Testudo graeca greenhouse will be an additional 8,000 Euros.

It is important that the structure is durable and the firm who supplied the aluminium greenhouse in 1990 have been selected. (Members may remember the greenhouse supplied with help from funds raised by the BCG in 1990 which is still in full use, housing the Emys orbicularis).

We are hoping you will be able to contribute towards this cost. The BCG is hoping to raise at least £6000 towards this project.

If you like you can make a donation when you renew your membership by adding the amount you wish to donate to the form or you can send a separate donation by cheque.

Please make the cheque out to the British Chelonia Group specifying that you want the money to go to the 2009 Conservation Appeal and send this to the:

Membership Secretary BCG, PO Box 1460, Bedworth, CV12 9ZW

And thankyou on behalf of the CARAPAX hatchlings

Anne Rowberry - Conservation Officer