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Giant River Turtle
Podocnemis expansa
The giant South American turtle is the largest river turtle in South America. It has a broad, domed and streamlined carapace for active swimming in moderate river currents. The colour may be influenced by the algae that is attached to it, but is usually olive green to brown.

The giant South American turtle inhabits freshwater rivers with sandy banks or sandbars, which are crucial for nesting. It nests during the low water season, laying from 75 to 125 leathery eggs per clutch. Large groups of females return to the same sandy riverbanks and sandbars every year to nest in groups that are thought to decrease loss of eggs to predators. As with most turtles, the sex of the hatchlings is determined by the average temperature at which they are incubated.

Threats to this species are primarily poaching for food and oil, urban and industrial development near nesting sites, and lack of conservation education. Logging and clearing of areas surrounding rivers and damming of rivers can cause the water cycle to be drastically altered which can confuse the turtles’ natural seasonal nesting cycles.