About 2,000 black-eared river turtles have been put back into the wild in a Peruvian rainforest following their release, according to The Naturalist, a magazine created by Ecuadorian journalist and author Daniel Martinez.
The turtles, considered to be the largest protected species in the world, are on their way to refuges in the surrounding Amazon that are home to a rich array of plants and animals.
Each turtle is a particular sort of turtle, and comes to the forest from captivity in southern Ecuador. Individual coloration is left to the tree they live in.
Martinez writes in The Naturalist:
Black-eared river turtles, the largest of all reptiles found in the Amazon, are some of the most astounding reptile species on Earth. Just over 30 centimeters long, the eggs of 1,000 rarely hatch in the wild. Individual reptiles live to be over 50 years old. Tiger-like turtles with spots, shades of yellow, red, green, and turquoise, mating from July to December for most of their lives, live and live and live together on the islands, where they have been extinct since 1523. Their numbers are suffering from poaching as well as the loss of habitats due to deforestation, though the threats these creatures face are very different.
While black-eared river turtles do appear to benefit from harvest and exploitation by the people living in the Amazon, most species of turtle are assessed as being in recovery or at risk of extinction due to hunting, pollution, habitat destruction, and unregulated fishing, The Guardian reports.
In 2001, Uruguay introduced a law that prohibited the hunting of six species of turtles, which the same year were listed as threatened by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.