Rote Island

Rote Island is one of the Lesser Sunda islands located in the southernmost region of East Nusa Tenggara province. Known for its extended dry season, the island's geographic proximity to Australia and Papua has led to the distribution of a unique species from the Chelidae family endemic to this area, Chelodina mccordi or the Rote snake-necked turtle. It stands as the sole turtle species inhabiting the island and, regrettably, among the rarest turtles globally.

In 2023, WCS collaborated with East Nusa Tenggara Conservation Agency to reintroduce the species to its habitat on Rote Island.


The management authorities are confronted with multifaceted challenges in conserving this species, a condition exacerbated by various factors including extensive trade, leading to a marked decline in its population. Moreover, the escalating impacts of climate change have further compounded these challenges with reduced lake water supply, and in some instances, complete drying up of freshwater lakes on Rote Island, significantly altering the habitat dynamics for the species and forcing it to contend with increasingly limited and fragmented habitats. Adding to these challenges is the proliferation of invasive predator species, such as the snakehead fish, which poses a significant threat to the already endangered turtle population.


WCS-IP Rote Island program has been supporting East Nusa Tenggara Conservation Agency since 2016 to bring back Rote snake-necked turtle species to its natural habitat on Rote Island and stabilize the population. The main activity of the conservation program started with assessment of the last status of the species on the Island, and awareness of its threatened conservation status. These activities were followed by establishing a breeding center in Kupang (the capital city of East Nusa Tenggara Province) as an "Assurance Colony" facility, and the implementation of conservation programs that are particularly focused on reintroducing the species.