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By José Antonio Pérez
As part of work to protect and conserve endangered species endemic to the region, staff at the Pinacate and Grand Desert of Altar Biosphere Reserve are taking part in intense monitoring efforts of the “casquito” (Kinosternon) turtle, which is unique to the Sonoyta River.
Horacio Ortega Morales, Deputy Director at the Pinacate Biosphere Reserve, detailed there are currently between 400-500 of the fresh water turtle within nearly a kilometer stretch of the Río Sonoyta in the Reserve. In coordination with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, AZ, Pinacate staff are working to place transmitters on the turtles to study the species’ behavior while seeking alternatives to halt their possible extinction. The most serious problem, detailed Ortega, is the reduced habitat of the “casquito” turtle which, if it continues to deteriorate, heightens risk of extinction.
The “casquito” turtle, along with the Sonoran berrendo pronghorn, and ironwood are flora and fauna emblematic to the region. As such, intensive work is being developed to ensure protection of these treasures.