At Saint-Martin-les-Meux in Haute-Vienne, the introduction of European pond turtles is encouraged.

The place is not impressive, but its importance from an ecological point of view is significant. In Saint-Martin-le-Meux, between the La Chaume and Mather ponds, Lois Rocher and Francis Leloncle are working on the creation of a natural infrastructure designed to facilitate the introduction of pond turtles in Haute-Vienne.

Founded in 1995, the Limousin Mammological and Herpetological Group, to which these two scientists belong, is mainly concerned with the study of amphibians and reptiles. In Haute-Vienne, the European pond turtle, a species of turtle that lives mainly in fresh water, is almost non-existent. And it was to fill this gap that these scientists dug two ponds to return them to the department.

Two ponds to welcome themResearcher and scientist Lois Roche involved in this project.

Pond turtles, which are widespread in Brenna, do not develop well in Upper Vienna. Saint-Martin-les-Meux is right on the border with Berry. Lois Roche and his colleagues from the Limousin group of mammologists and herpetologists decided to build these small safe pools so that they can reproduce, circulate and develop freely and in complete safety.

The two ponds they dug are located between places called La Mazere and Chaumes. Located near a small stream, they will slowly fill up. If all goes well, they will be ready to receive the turtles. The latter will arrive when their hibernation ends.

natural space

The ponds were dug this week
Lois Roche is not worried. “A small stream flowing nearby, as well as groundwater and rainfall, will contribute to the filling of these reservoirs. And because the grasslands are wet, the pond turtles should quickly be in their element,” he explains.

Everything is done to save them. The ponds are surrounded by a barbed wire fence. They must be protected from herds grazing in the field, which can harm water quality, and from predators.

Predators on the hunt

The latter are especially fond of babies, whose growth at birth does not exceed 2.5 cm. “Females travel 4 or 5 kilometers to lay eggs. Each of them can carry up to 18 eggs. Hatching takes place in autumn. And it is when they reach watering points that mothers and babies are at their most vulnerable. Birds, foxes or deer are watching them carefully,” says Lois Roche. But once in the water, they are safe.

Protected species

Installation turtle protection fences
People, on the other hand, are not allowed to touch, catch or hunt them. The pond turtle is under protection.

For Loïs Rocher, everything must be done to attract them to our department. His project is to build corridors connecting wetlands to facilitate the passage of fauna. Francis Alloncle and Lois Roche will return to Saint-Martin-le-Meaux this summer to see if people have taken over these damp spaces dug for them.

Jean Francois Julien

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