Northern River Terrapin (Batagur baska):
- Physical features: It is a 60 cm long turtle, recognized by 4 claws in front feet where as other turtles have 5.
- Habitat: The terrapin is found in tidal areas of large rivers, sandbars and riverbanks.
- Presumed to be extinct in several Southeast Asian countries.
- Described as the world’s second most endangered turtle (Yangtze giant soft shell turtle being the most endangered freshwater turtle).
- In the Critically Endangered (CR) list of IUCN.
- Protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, India.
- Included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), making international trade in this species illegal.
Batagur turtles in India:
Of six large fresh water turtles of the genus Batagur, three are found in India:
- Batagur kachuga (Red-crowned roofed turtle)
- Batagur dhongoka (Three-striped roofed turtle) – found in the tributaries of the Ganga, such as Chambal.
- Batagur baska (The Northern river terrapin) – the most endangered of the three species.
- A decade ago, the presence of Northern river terrapin had declined to “undetectable in the wild” in West Bengal and Odisha.
- Since than, officials of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve and experts from Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), are running a recovery program, through captive conservation breeding.
- Getting new enclosure for the breeding programme would protect the species against natural risks, and also facilitate genetic management.
- The Northern river terrapin is set to get a new home – three fresh water ponds in the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve.
- The turtles will be released with satellite transmitters to determine survival and dispersal.
Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA):
- It was formed in 2001 as an IUCN partnership for sustainable captive management of freshwater turtles and tortoises.
- It was formed in response to the Asian Turtle Crisis.
- Since then it has become a recognised force in turtle and tortoise conservation globally.
Section : Environment & Ecology