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The government's guardians supervise the egg pastures, once they have been completed in the well known places established for many years, and they protect the beaches, so that they are not raided by wandering Indians, particularly the Muras.

Here on the occasion of the New Moon of October is the best time for countless collectors to gather sometimes from distant regions. There is a “Captain of the Beach” expressly appointed to maintain order among these people; And it is he who divides the harvest, and takes care of receiving the percentage for the tax. The choice of this employee for such a lucrative operation is made by the Governor of the province, and almost always is granted to a member of the garrison or a distinguished citizen. Fastidious care is given to the layers of eggs, which in general are present in certain well known places on each island, and rarely found in different places. An experienced Indian marks the boundaries by means of long sticks, which, entering the sand, find the nests where there is more resistance. All the area is then divided among the collectors, in proportion to the number of workers that each one brings. A percentage of the total is designated as possession of the crown by a flag.

(continued footnote from p172)
If there are too many people or violence is done against these scouts, the whole flock will then move to another beach. When they feel safe, they start to lay their eggs. At night, in general with the moonlight, one flock after another emerges from the river. Females walk in the center; the males, smaller and much less numerous, follow on the sides, for protection. A confusing mass of these animals darkens the light sands, and hastily they run from one side to the other in disorder, wanting to take the front, smacking their hard shells, which results in a noise heard at a great distance like a collision in the quiet of the night.

This spectacle I saw in a sand bank of the Japura, where at least a few thousand turtles were assembled.

On that restless night, the impression they gave was thrilling. Coming ashore on an island, the flock soon finds its pasture With an incredible rapidity, the whole beach is in motion, and the flying sand darkens the horizon. Alternating the hind paws, the turtle digs, throwing out the sand, and sometimes forms a pit of three feet deep. She puts herself over the hole and lays her eggs (whose smallest number is 60, maximum is 140, in the average should calculate some 100);

While she rests on her forepaws, the eggs are covered lightly with sand and packed firmly by her breast plate. Each female needs three to 4 hours for its task. The pits are made in the flat beach, not in the steep banks of the margins, but at least a hundred steps from the water and even some feet above the highest height of the flood, which occurs soon after the spawn. In this sense, this observation agrees with those of the Nile turtles (Tryonix Aegyptica), made by Aeliam, who

Tryonix Aegyptica, the soft shell turtle

reported that the egg pastures were always out of the reach of the river; this is true for all the amphibians of the Amazon. The work of laying eggs can be dangerous, where a death blow sometimes happens when a turtle is buried by its neighbor, or another turtle takes the eggs already deposited, in order to lay its own eggs. Once the pasture is initiated, the turtles do not let themselves be moved from there, and whoever wants can examine them on all sides, without being bitten, as long as they do not summon a male. The Indians say that men dressed in white are in greater safety, because the animals thinks they are great white storks, who are often on the beaches at the time of spawning. The spawn lasts from twilight until dawn, without interruption, like a busy dream.

The majority of turtles establish the pasture by 5:00 p.m. and end at 10 a.m.; But, as a general rule, the flock is already back in the river as soon as it dawns, and only some females remain, who found themselves somehow prevented from laying eggs. At this point they are exposed to danger from every side. These, not rarely, are eaten by the jaguars, now attracted to the beaches. The jaguar sees the turtle and opens it, with much dexterity with a way between the back and the belly, and with the front claw extracts all the meat from the inside.

The female remains some days on the riverbank, feeding on wild cane and other grasses; Then they are headed back to the lakes or ponds, where they are expected by the males. The places, where many eggs were laid, are recognizable by the scattered shells, and by the sand clotted with the egg yolk. When the turtles return to the river, only the experienced collector recognizes the place where the eggs are found, by the slight elevations, sometimes in the form of a hollow, in the smoothness of the sand. This description agrees perfectly with the reports that Mr. von Humboldt gave about the Orinoco turtle and I do not doubt that his Testudo arrua is our Emys amazonica, as well as his Testudo terekay is our Emys Tracaja. There in the Orinoco river, the spawn s made in the month of March.

Emys amazonica

Emys amazonica juvenile

Emys Tracaja

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