“Someone must do something to help this species.” These were the words of Joko Guntoro, a young Sumatran conservationist, when he left his job at a well-established, orangutan conservation organisation to set up a new initiative for an obscure freshwater turtle in his home province of Aceh in northern Sumatra.
One of the world’s rarest freshwater turtles
The painted terrapin is a river turtle found in just four countries in Southeast Asia. It is known for the remarkable transformation which males of the species undergo every year during their breeding season. When the time comes to mate, the males of the species are utterly transformed, from a nondescript brown to an extraordinarily colourful turtle, with a distinctly patterned shell and a white head with a bright red stripe between their eyes.