Giant Asian Pond Turtle

Giant Asian Pond Turtle (Heosemys grandis)
Upper Seletar Reservoir, 5th May 2012

These photos of a turtle roadkill were taken by my friend Fung Tze Kwan and shared on Facebook. It was identified by Kelvin Lim of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR) as a hatchling Giant Asian Pond Turtle. This species is believed to be introduced to Singapore, with sightings of wild adults likely to represent abandoned pets* and other former captives. However, there is a specimen in the California Academy of Sciences which was supposedly collected from Singapore in 1908, although it could also be of captive origin.

This very young individual may represent evidence that this species has managed to reproduce in the wild. On the other hand, as it was found on Vesak Day, a day when many Buddhist devotees carry out the practice of releasing captive animals in a bid to to gain spiritual merit, this turtle could have simply been liberated by a well-meaning person, only to get killed after it wandered onto the road.

*Apart from the Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) and the Malayan Box Turtle (Cuora amboinensis), which are sold as pets, and the Chinese Softshell Turtle(Pelodiscus sinensis), which is sold for human consumption, the trade in any other turtle and tortoise species (including the Giant Asian Pond Turtle) in Singapore is considered illegal.