European Pond Turtle
European Pond Turtle has a wide but currently very fragmented distribution in Europe (the richest populations are in the Mediterranean region), as well as Asia (in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions) and coastal northwestern Africa. Numbers are most probably decreasing.
Main threat is habitat loss caused by urbanization, road construction, wetland drainage etc. Other threats include water pollution, competition of invasive species (Trachemys scripta). Historically the main threat was collection for food and pet trade.
European Pond Turtle is a very rare native species of Latvia.
Activities of Riga Zoo
■ A call to report pond turtle sightings
In 2005, a campaign was launched together with Daugavpils Zoo, calling on people to report all sightings of the rare native European Pond Turtle. The project was funded by the Environmental Protection Fund of Latvia.
■ The Turtle Sanctuary
Invasive turtle species are a threat to the survival of the European Pond Turtle. In 2010, the Turtle Sanctuary was opened in Riga Zoo’s Quarantine station, inviting people to take their unwanted pet turtles to the sanctuary rather than release them into the wild. In 2003–2020, a total of 513 turtles of various exotic species were admitted to the Zoo. Most of them were Red-eared Sliders of various subspecies. The Turtle Sanctuary has helped educate people, as well as find new homes to the turtles arriving at the Zoo.
■ Listed as Near Threatened (NT) in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
■ The species is managed under the EEP (EAZA Ex-situ Programme).
■ Listed in Appendix II of the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats as a strictly protected fauna species.
■ Listed in Annexes II and IV of EU Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of natural habitats of wild fauna and flora (the Habitats Directive).
■ An especially protected species in Latvia (the Cabinet of Ministers’ Regulations No. 396 on November 14, 2000).
■ Phylum Chordata – chordates
■ Class Reptilia – reptiles
■ Order Testudines – turtles
■ Family Emydidae – pond, box and water turtles
■ Species Emys orbicularis – European Pond Turtle