October 21, 2005
Lucknow, October 20: Shocked by the fast extinction of many Indian species of turtles, global experts have decided to include 11 of the 27 Indian species in the critically endangered list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Four of these 11 species will also be listed under Schedule 1 of India's Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. This Act imposes a mandatory prison term of one year on anyone found in possession of the listed species.
Earlier, only three Indian turtle species Kachuga kachuga, Aspideretes leithii and Chitra indica were in the IUCN's endangered list while only Kachuga kachuga was listed under the national Wildlife Protection Act.
According to Dr Harry Andrews, director of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, the eight Indian species which have been added to the IUCN's list are Hardella thurjii, Kachuga dhongoka, Kachuga smithi, Kachuga sylhetensis, Morenia petersi, Pyxidea mouhotii, Manouria emys and Pelochelys cantorii.
Among these, Kachuga sylhetensis, Manouria emys and Aspideretes leithii have been listed under the national Wildlife Protection Act too.
This decision was taken on the concluding day of the four-day meet between the representatives of IUCN, Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), Conservation International, Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT) and senior wildlife officials of the forest department.
Dr Peter Paul Van Djik of the IUCN, Rick Hudson of TSA, Dr Harry Andrews of MCBT, UP's chief wildlife warden of UP Mohammad Ehsan were among those who participated in the discussions.
Expressing concern over the wild harvesting of Indian turtles, Dr Djik said: We are already trying to create awareness in China and the Middle East but have met with only partial success. Fifteen per cent of the turtles in the Chinese market are smuggled from the Indian sub-continent.''
While turtles from western India are reportedly smuggled to the Middle East by the sea route, those from South India are transported by air to Singapore. In central and northern India, turtles are transported to Kolkata, from where they are sent by air to Singapore and Hong Kong.
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