On a recent visit to a hill-top habitat of the Gnamma terrapin turtles (a newly-discovered subspecies of the West-African side-necked turtle) in Akure, Ondo State capital, we found out that the water level in the turtle pool has significantly dropped below the usual average depths normally observed within the past 8 years of our close study of the habitat.
This year, the water level in the turtle pool stands at 35cm, as against the 60cm average depth for the month of October. Although, there appears to be a gradual drop in the observed averages over the years, but none is close to the drop experienced this year. This can be possibly attributed to the effects of global warming on the habitat.
The hibernating period of the turtles had been observed (over the years) to start in December and end in early February, during which the habitat gets completely dried up, leaving a thick layer of hardened sediments at the base of the pool. The hiding place of the turtles during this period remains unknown till date. The early drying-up of the pool therefore calls for attention as it inevitably increases their hibernation period beyond the normal.
We hereby welcome ideas and suggestions on the possible effects of this early drying of the terrapin habitat, as we cannot afford to leave these wonderful species to more danger than they are already exposed to. A better understanding of their habitat and its dynamics will help us make better decisions on what steps to take to ensure a proper conservation of these species and their habitat.