Indonesia will never cease to amaze even the most discerning traveller. In addition to beautiful cultures and traditions, the Indonesian wilderness will astound you with its assemblage of exotic and unique wild animals.
A fantastic example is the Komodo Dragon, a real-life dragon found in the Komodo National Park, in West Flores. In Kalimantan, Borneo, you’ll find the beloved ginger-haired Orangutans, along with a plethora of fascinating flora and fauna unique to this part of the world. In Bali, you’ll find the breathtaking and rare Bali Starling, also known as the Jalak Bali with its startlingly white feathers and bright blue plumage.
Meanwhile, Rote Island is home to one of the world’s rarest turtles: the Snake-Necked Turtle - a fascinating creature that is endemic to Indonesia’s southernmost island. It was named so due to its long, narrow neck - it is so long, the turtle is unable to retract its head directly back into its shell!
How rare is the Snake-Necked Turtle on Rote Island?
The rare Snake-Necked Turtle on Rote Island used to roam the freshwaters in great numbers in the central highlands of Rote, specifically in Lakes Peto, Lendoen and Ledulu. Its population has drastically dwindled due to conversion of land for agriculture and illegal international pet trade. In 2004, the Snake-Necked Turtle was listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
According to WCS Indonesia, as far back as 2005, researchers have failed to locate the remaining population of Snake-Necked Turtles in the wild.
Is it even possible to encounter the Rote Island Snake-Necked Turtle?
Rote Island has been designated as a conservation area of the Snake - Necked Turtle since 2017 by Balai Besar KSDA NTT that collaborates with Wildlife Conservation Society. However, seeing them closely at conservation sites may not be possible as the exact location of the official conservation area for the said Snake-Necked Turtles on Rote Island has not been disclosed and maybe not open publicly as well.
Unfortunately, in many places, the Snake-Necked Turtles are kept as pets. Insufficient regulations have been unsuccessful in preventing and reducing the illegal trading of these beautiful creatures.
In 2019, there were reports that a number of Snake-Necked Turtles - which were bred in captivity - would be released back into the wild through a reintroduction programme run by the Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia (WCS-IP) and Wildlife Reserve Singapore.
Rote Island is Still Relatively "WILD"
Rote Island is beautiful and relatively untouched. As we get to know the island, let’s do our part in protecting and preserving its wildlife and surroundings. It’s important to note that Rote Island is more than just a holiday destination. It is an island that is rich with unique and fascinating people, culture, and wildlife.