Turtles and the operations to save them

Turtles and the operations to save them

Why in news :

  • According to a study at least 1.11 lakh tortoises and freshwater turtles were trafficked from September 2009 to September 2019.
  • A week ago, West Bengal police seized 270kg of turtle calipee (a gelatinous layer found in lower shells of turtles, believed to be used in traditional Chinese medicine).

Difference between Turtles and Tortoises :

  • India has 29 species of freshwater turtles (24) and tortoises (5).
  • The main difference between the two is that turtles are primarily aquatic where as tortoises are terrestrial and they spend more time on land.

Red- Crowned Roof Turtle :

  • The red-crowned roofed turtle also known as Bengal roof turtle[1] (Batagur kachuga) is a species of freshwater turtle endemic to South Asia.
  • Historically, this turtle was found in central Nepal, northeastern India, Bangladesh and probably Burma.
  • But its population is considerably reduced due to poaching, illegal harvesting, habitat loss and water pollution.
  • The females excavate nests in which they lay clutches of up to thirty eggs.
  • It is found only with in the National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary which is spread across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Conservation status :
    1. IUCN status : Critically endangered
    2. Wildlife Protection Act,1972 : Schedule I
    3. CITES : Schedule II
  • However, recently India’s proposal to put red-crowned roofed turtle and Leith’s Softshell Turtle in the Schedule I of the CITES (convention on international trade in endangered species of flora and fauna) has been adopted.

Northern River Terrapin :

  • The northern river terrapin (Batagur baska) is a species of riverine turtle native to Southeast Asia.
  • The species is currently found in Bangladesh and India (in the Sunderbans), Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • It is regionally extinct in Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Conservation status :
    1. IUCN conservation status : Critically Endangered
    2. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 : Schedule-I
    3. CITES conservation status : Schedule- I

Operation SaveKurma :

  • It was organied by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, to fight against the wildlife trafficking.

Operation turtshield-I and II :

  • It is also operated by the WCCB, MOEFCC to stop the trafficking among the turtles and to rehabilitate them.

Syllabus : prelims + mains; species in news and various protection measures for vulnerable species