India’s Top 5 threatened turtles

India’s Top 5 threatened turtles

Most threatened top five turtles in India are:

  1. Batagurbaska: The northern river terrapin found in the Sundarbans.
  2. Batagurkachuga: Red-crowned roof turtle from the National Chambal Sanctuary, spread across Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
  3. Chitraindica: South Asian narrow-headed softshell turtle found in the gangetic river system.
  4. Nilssonianigricans: Black softshell turtle found in temple ponds of North Bengal and Assam.
  5. Pelochelyscantorii: Asian giant softshell turtle found in the eastern coast.



Turtle habitat is being lost due to:

  • Development
  • Expansion of agriculture
  • Land and water pollution
  • Consumption of the animals and their eggs


IUCN status 

IUCN status of the five most threatened turtles of India is as follows:

  • Critical endangered: The northern river terrapin, the red-crowned roof turtle and giant softshell turtle.
  • Endangered: The narrow-headed softshell is endangered.
  • Extinct: The black softshell is extinct in the wild.


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.
  • According to TSA, India’s most threatened freshwater turtles are from Asia.
  • China has the highest number of threatened turtles in Asia.


Northern River Terrapin (Batagurbaska)

Physical features

  • It is a 60 cm long turtle recognized by 4 claws in front feet where as other turtles have 5.


  • The terrapin is found in tidal areas of large rivers, sandbars and riverbanks.


  • It is presumed to be extinct in several Southeast Asian countries.
  • It is described as the world’s second most endangered turtle (Yangtze giant soft shell turtle being the endangered freshwater turtle).
  • It is Critically Endangered as per the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • It is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, India.
  • It is included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, making international trade in this species illegal.


Related question, UPSC 2015


With reference to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. IUCN is an organ of the United Nations and CITES is an international agreement between governments
  2. IUCN runs thousands of field projects around the world to better manage natural environments.
  3. CITES is legally binding on the States that have joined it, but this Convention does not take the place of national laws.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. a) 1 only
  2. b) 2 and 3 only
  3. c) 1 and 3 only
  4. d) 1, 2 and 3


Answer: b