IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


20th November, 2023 Environment


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  • Baby turtles were released into an Amazon River as part of a program to preserve the species.
  • Around 3,200 yellow-spotted Amazon River turtles, known locally as Taricayas, were freed as part of a plan to repopulate the species, which is threatened by hunting.



  • The yellow-spotted Amazon river turtle Podocnemis unifilis), also known commonly as the yellow-headed sideneck turtle and the yellow-spotted river turtle, and locally as the taricaya, is one of the largest South American river turtles.


  • Podocnemis unifilis is a large turtle, and can grow up to 45 cm long and weigh up to 8 kg.
  • This species can be recognized by its black or brown oval carapace (upper shell) with distinctive low keels on the second and third scutes.
  • Yellow spots on the side of its head give this species its common name.
  • These spots are most prominent in juveniles and fade with age. Females can be up to twice the size of males.

Distribution and habitat

  • These turtles are native to South America's Amazon and Orinoco basins, as well as river systems of the Guianas.
  • They are found in tributaries and large lakes, naturally calm waters.


  • During the flood season, turtles may venture into flooded forests or floodplain lakes.
  • They feed on fruits, seeds, weeds, aquatic plants, fish, and small invertebrates

Threats and conservation

  • This species is at risk of predation by humans, birds, snakes, large fish, frogs and mammals.
  • Importation of this species is now strictly regulated by federal law, but a captive, self-sustaining population exists in the United States – some groups in zoos, others in the hands of private collectors.

Life span

  • Individuals of this species have lived more than 30 years in captivity.

IUCN Status

  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Q. Consider the following statements with reference to Taricayas.

1.    These turtles are native to Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

2.    It belongs to the IUCN Red List of Vulnerable Species.

3.    Importation of this species is now strictly prohibited.

How many of the above statements are incorrect?

A) Only 1

B) Only 2

C) All 3

D) None

Answer: C) All 3