6 June 2024

Chiang Mai-based Living River Association (LRA) has joined forces with seven local communities along the Ing River to protect Pulu or big-headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum), an endangered species which is facing extinction from commercial hunting and forest fires.

Kriangkrai Jaengsawang, an official of the conservation association, told Thai PBS that, although the Pulu turtle is a protected species, they are still being hunted for commercial purposes.

A Pulu turtle, which survived a forest fire in Mueang district of Phrae Province, was handed over to Prawit Jaikham, head of the Wiang Kosai national park in Phrae Province today (Thursday).

The turtle was found crawling along Highway 1023 in Pa Maet sub-district by a villager who later gave to the park officials. After finding that the turtle was healthy, it was released into a creek in the national park.

Kriangkrai said that Pulu turtles used to be abundant in the Ing River and its tributaries, but, of late, its numbers have dropped drastically due to hunting by man, adding that forest fires also pose a threat to its habitat.

To protect the remaining turtles, he said the association and seven communities along the Ing River have declared the turtles’ habitat in the river and its tributaries a no-hunting zone.

They also set up a fund and formed a volunteer group to patrol the habitat to protect the turtles.

The Pulu turtle is known to climb over obstacles in and round rivers and fast streams easily, using its tail as a prop to extend the reach of its strong claws. It also uses its beak to assist in climbing. It has been reported to climb trees and bushes. The turtle cannot pull its head into its shell and eats fish and snails.

The source of the Ing River is in the Phi Pan Nam mountain range and it flows through several districts of Phayao Province into Chiang Rai Province at Pa Daet District, Thoeng, Khun Tan and Meng Rai districts and into the Mekong River in Chiang Khong district.