Mesoclemmys dahli is commonly known as Dahl’s toad-headed turtle. It is a species endemic to Colombia, occurring in the Departments of Atlántico, Bolívar, Cesar, Córdoba, Magdalena and Sucre. It is aquatic with nocturnal habits (Medem 1966) and lives in small pools and slow-flowing streams or brooks (Forero-Medina et al. 2012). It is an omnivorous species (Medem 1966, Castaño y Medem 2002, Rueda-Almonacid et al. 2004).
Human intervention in the dry tropical forest represents its major threat, as this circumstance leads to the disappearance and degradation of its habitat (Medem 1966, De la Ossa-Velasquez 1998, Castaño-Mora y Medem 2002, Rueda-Almonacid et al. 2007). It is presently classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a critically endangered species.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) y Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) have researched its distribution, abundance and ecology in different localities. In Chiminagua, with the support of the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the Mario Santo Domingo Foundation, there is an ongoing program for the restoration of riparian vegetation in the streams where Mesoclemmys dahli lives.
Also, in the Departments of Córdoba and Cesar, in the remnants of the Caribbean dry forest, an investigation project on the ecology and genetics of populations of Dahl’s toad-headed turtle is presently underway. This initiative is supported by Ecopetrol, the Mario Santo Domingo Foundation, the Senckenberg Dresden Zoology Museum, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the Los Andes University.
We have also been working with communities bordering the dry forests to try to understand their relationship with this ecosystem and the turtles living therein