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Biodiversity & Environment

Behler Turtle Conservation Award

  • 04 Sep 2021
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, Indian biologist Shailendra Singh has been awarded the Behler Turtle Conservation Award for bringing three critically endangered turtle conservation species back from the brink of extinction.

  • There are 29 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises in the country.

Key Points

  • About Behler Turtle Conservation Award:
    • Established in 2006, it is a major annual international award honoring excellence in the field of tortoise and freshwater turtle conservation and biology, and leadership in the chelonian conservation and biology community.
    • Also referred to as the “Nobel Prize” of Turtle Conservation.
    • Co-presented by Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, Turtle Conservancy, and Turtle Conservation Fund.
    • In the present context, the three critically endangered turtles are being conserved as a part of TSA India’s research, conservation breeding and education programme in different parts of the country.
  • Northern River Terrapin:
    • Habitat:
      • The Sundarbans eco-region is their natural habitat.
    • Protection Status:
    • Threats:
      • Exploited for local subsistence and ritualistic consumption as well as some regional trade, including supply to the Calcutta markets in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Red-crowned Roofed Turtle:
    • Habitat:
      • Historically, the species was widespread in the Ganga River, both in India and Bangladesh. It also occurs in the Brahmaputra basin.
      • Currently in India, the National Chambal River Gharial Sanctuary is the only area with a substantial population of the species.
    • Protection Status:
      • IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered
      • CITES: Appendix II
      • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I
    • Threats:
      • Loss or degradation of habitat due to pollution and large scale development activities like water extraction for human consumption and irrigation and irregular flow from the upstream dams and reservoirs.
  • Black Softshell Turtle:
    • Habitat:
      • They are found in ponds of temples in northeastern India and Bangladesh.
      • Its distribution range also includes the Brahmaputra River and its tributaries.
    • Protection Status:
      • IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered
      • CITES: Appendix I
      • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: No legal protection
    • Threats:
      • Consumption of turtle meat and eggs, silt mining, encroachment of wetlands and change in flooding pattern.

Sea Turtles of Indian Waters

  • Sea turtles are larger in size compared to terrapins (freshwater turtles) and tortoises.
  • There are five species in Indian waters i.e. Olive Ridley, Green turtle, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Leatherback.
  • The Olive Ridley, Leatherback and Loggerhead are listed as 'Vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • The Hawksbill turtle is listed as 'Critically Endangered' and the Green Turtle is listed as 'Endangered'.

Source: TH

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