Lucknow Newsline
October 19, 2005

Save Turtle Plan Banks on Awareness Campaign

Piyush Srivastava

Lucknow, October 18: On the second day of the four-day workshop on ‘‘conservation and action plan for turtles and tortoises of India'', it was decided that a baseline survey would be conducted for long-term population monitoring of the endangered species.

The experts hope to save the turtles by raising awareness in the turtle-populated regions through distribution of postcards and leaflets asking people to provide feedback to the researchers.

To facilitate the survey, the entire ‘‘turtle region'' has been divided into three areas. The density of turtles will be assessed in each segment separately.

While the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department is in charge of conducting the survey in the North Gangetic basin, its Madhya Pradesh counterpart will take over the South Gangetic basin. The third area, the Brahmaputra region, will be surveyed by an Assam-based NGO, Aranya.

The suggestion to rope in universities for the survey work was rejected on the ground that varsities would not reach out to the grassroot level. The experts recommended macro-level information gathering from the field, pointing out that those living by the riverside are aware about the availability of freshwater turtles.

Earlier, Harry Andrews, director of Madras Crocodile Bank Trust told Newsline that his centre and Kukrail Breeding Centre have been identified for captive breeding of the species.

‘‘One of the Centre's objectives is to maintain the gene pools of highly endangered species of freshwater turtles and tortoises. Recent achievements have been the hatching of the extremely endangered Kachuga kachuga. The first clutch of 19 turtles hatched in May 2004, while May 2005 saw two clutches of 13 and nine each,'' he informed.

According to Andrew, the Kukrail centre has also been successful in captive breeding of 30 turtles of the Kachuga kachuga species.

Besides crocodiles, the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust maintains gene pools of endangered Indian species of freshwater turtles and tortoises.