The Philippine forest turtle, Siebenrockiella leytensis, is endemic to Palawan and Dumaran islands. Its limited distribution, exploitation, and habitat destruction are the main threats to this Critically Endangered species. The populations of 5 sites in northern Palawan were assessed in terms of habitat, population size, density, and structure. Fieldwork was conducted from 28 January to 15 June 2007. Turtles were collected through visual encounters and with pit fall and baited funnel traps. All captured individuals were marked and released after standard measurements were taken. Considering the relatively short sample period, populations were considered “closed,” that is, with negligible birth, death, and migration. Population size was then estimated using statistical analysis. Information on exploitation was gathered through interviews. Surveys revealed various degrees of habitat destruction and different levels of exploitation among sites. Population size estimates varied from 10 to 110 individuals per site, and in the majority of sites, adults were most prevalent. Densities ranged from 4.4 to 121.7 (mean 39.3 ± 49.5) individuals/ha. The highest density and largest population were found at the least disturbed site. Low densities were recorded in the more disturbed habitats, presumably as a result of exploitation. In 3 of the 5 sites turtles are heavily exploited either for local food consumption or for the international pet trade. Findings justify its current status as Critically Endangered. In situ conservation of the most pristine population (Site I) is recommended in line with further research on the biology, ecology, and distribution pattern of the species.
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