About Black spotted turtle

About Black spotted turtle

  • The black spotted turtle or spotted pond turtle is native to South Asia, and a heavily trafficked chelonian.
  • It is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of threatened species.
  • The medium-sized freshwater turtle has a black shell with yellow streaks.
  • The species was once smuggled for its meat and is now sought after as an exotic pet.
  • The report titled ‘Black Spotted Turtle Trade in Asia II: A Seizure Analysis’ records seizures of 10,321 specimens in 53 instances across seven countries between April 2014 and March 2016.


Seizure of black spotted turtles

  • The highest number of seizures occurred in India, accounting for a total of 3,001 (29.33%) specimens.
  • Of the 53 seizures across these seven countries, 38% (or 20) seizures were from India.
  • India is followed by Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand (1,995 specimens or 19%) and Hong Kong (1,775 specimens or 17%), followed by Bangladesh (1,197 specimens or 12%). The remaining specimens were seized from China, Pakistan and Singapore.
  • The seizures of 10,321 turtles in a period of two years marks a huge increase from the 2,171 turtles seized in 26 cases recorded between January 2008 and March 2014.


Reasons for rise in seizures

  • Alongside the increase in demand for such turtles, the alertness of enforcement agencies and their focus on the species had increased.
  • Also there are lacunae in the preparation of cases, and in procedural lapses in prosecution, which are further giving rise to such seizures.


Where are Black spotted turtle found in India?

  • In India, the species is distributed across the north, northeast and a few parts of central India in States such as West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and parts of Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Meghalaya.


Smuggling hotspots

  • Chennai
    • An analysis of the trade route places Chennai as an important centre for the trade.
    • Seizure data indicates that black spotted turtles are transported to Chennai by car or train, and subsequently smuggled to other parts of the region.
    • In the past, Chennai has been identified as a major transit hub for illegal international trade in the Indian star tortoise, another species smuggled in large numbers.
    • Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra fall completely out of the distribution range of the species, it proves that these States are used as trade routes.
  • The India-Bangladesh border, part of the species’ natural range, as another hotspot for trade in the black soft-shelled turtle.

Note- Bangladesh capital Dhaka “is in closer proximity to the Indian Black Spotted Turtle trade hotspots than most large Indian cities and may therefore function as a regional collection centre


Way ahead

  • Apart from increasing public awareness, there is the need for better law enforcement and cooperation among international authorities.



  • TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, is a strategic alliance of IUCN and WWF.
  • Its mission is to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature.
  • Functions:
    • Investigating and analysing wildlife trade trends, impacts and drivers;
    • Informing and supporting action by governments to enforce effective policies and laws;
    • Providing advice to the private sector on effective approaches to sustainable sourcing of wildlife;
    • Developing insights into consumer attitudes to guide the design of communication interventions to dissuade purchasing of illicit wildlife goods.
  • TRAFFIC plays a vital role in tackling illegal wildlife trade through conducting research and analysis, advocacy and awareness work and by supporting remedial action against illegal wildlife trade.
Section : Environment & Ecology