A Sunderbans denizen staves off extinction
Batagur baska, the 60-cm-long turtle that is presumed extinct in several Southeast Asian countries, is classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in its Red List of threatened species. The tiger, by comparison, is endangered.
For the past ten years, officials of the Sunderban Tiger Reserve with support from experts at Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), have coordinated a recovery program for what is described as the world’s second most endangered turtle, through captive conservation breeding. The Yangtze giant soft shell turtle, Rafetus swinhoei, is considered the most endangered freshwater turtle.
The terrapin, has a river estuarine habitat. Their population had been decimated due to habitat loss and clandestine harvesting. Three fresh water ponds in the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve will house the rare Northern river terrapin (Batagur baska), whose presence in the wild in West Bengal and Odisha had declined to undetectable levels a decade ago.
Of six large fresh water turtles of the genus Batagur, three are found in India. Batagur kachuga (Redcrowned roofed turtle) and Batagur dhongoka (Threestriped roofed turtle) are found in the tributaries of the Ganga, such as Chambal. The Northern river terrapin is the most endangered of the three species, and their long-term fortunes depend on an ecologically functional colony getting re-established in the wild.
Turtle Survival Alliance
The Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) is an action-oriented global partnership that is committed to zero turtle extinctions in the 21st century. To achieve this, the TSA:
- Creates breeding programs, including building facilities, for critically endangered freshwater turtles and tortoises
- Conducts field research
- Develops conservation plans and puts those plans into action
- Promotes conservation awareness among local communities
- Provides support, knowledge, training and resources to conservation partners around the world
- Advocates for greater enforcement of wildlife laws