Daily News Analysis

Black softshell turtle

21st June, 2021 Environment

GS PAPER II: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Context: A major temple in Assam has signed a memorandum of understanding with two green NGOs, the Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden and the Kamrup district administration for long-term conservation of the rare freshwater black softshell turtle (Nilssonia nigricans).

  • A vision document 2030 was also launched after Turtle Survival Alliance India and Help Earth signed the pact involving the Hayagriva Madhava Temple Committee.
  • The temple, revered by both Hindus and Buddhists, is at Hajo, about 30 km northwest of Guwahati.
  • This multi-stakeholder association (conservation pact) aims to restock the wild with viable, self-sufficient and genetically pure threatened turtle populations in the region.
  • It offer assistance for the required improvement of husbandry of turtles kept in such ponds, and further recovery efforts are recommended for the long-term survival and existence of the endangered freshwater turtles.

Black softshell turtle

  • It is a species of freshwater turtle found in India (Assam) and Bangladesh (Chittagong and Sylhet).
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature had in 2021 listed the turtle as ‘critically endangered’.
  • Until sightings along the Brahmaputra River’s drainage in Assam, the black softshell turtle was thought to be ‘extinct in the wild’ and confined only to ponds of temples in northeastern India and Bangladesh.
  • It does not enjoy legal protection under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 although it has traditionally been hunted for its meat and cartilage, traded in regional and international markets.

Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA):

  • It was formed in 2001 as an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) partnership for sustainable captive management of freshwater turtles and tortoises.
  • The TSA arose in response to the rampant and unsustainable harvest of Asian turtle populations to supply Chinese markets, a situation known as the Asian Turtle Crisis.
  • TSA has become recognized as a global force for turtle conservation, capable of taking swift and decisive action on behalf of critically endangered turtles and tortoises.
  • The TSA is a recognized force for turtle conservation globally. TSA’s conservation actions utilize a three-pronged approach:
    • Restoring populations in the wild where possible;
    • Securing species in captivity through assurance colonies; and
    • Building the capacity to restore, secure and conserve species within their range country.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/vision-document-for-conserving-assam-temple-turtles-launched/article34863208.ece?homepage=true