From September 29 to October 8, the Universidad del Valle, in Cali, Colombia, offered a graduate course in natural history and conservation of freshwater turtles and tortoises, with the support from the TSA and other national organizations. In this course students learned techniques to identify and study turtle species in Colombia, the main drivers of turtle extinctions, and management and conservation strategies for endangered species.
18 Students from different regions of Colombia and one from Ecuador participated in the course, which included a field trip to Isla Palma, in the Pacific, to practice field techniques and develop small research projects with different turtle species present in the island.
The course included input from professors Dr. Alan Giraldo (Universidad del Valle), Dr. John L. Carr (University of Louisiana), Dr. Vivian Paez (Universidad de Antioquia), Carlos Galvis (Cali Zoo), Mario F. Garcés (Universidad del Valle) and TSA Colombia Program Coordinator Dr. German Forero-Medina (TSA/WCS).
This was an outstanding opportunity for disseminating the importance and conservation needs of turtles among students, and it provided a platform for establishing a communication network among students interested in turtle research and conservation. Support to this course is part of TSA’s strategy of expanding the capacity for turtle conservation in Colombia and building support and awareness for the importance of turtles and their conservation.