Black softshell turtle
- The Black Softshell Turtle (Nilssonia nigricans) is a Critically Endangered freshwater species native to Bangladesh and India.
- But it does not enjoy legal protection under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, although it has traditionally been hunted for its meat and cartilage, traded in regional and international markets.
- Until recently, it was considered Extinct in the Wild on account of no known wild populations. Within the last 15 years, however, a few small remnant populations have been discovered inhabiting the Brahmaputra River basin of Northeast India.
- The majority of this species’ population resides amongst sacred temple ponds in its two native countries.
Why in the news?
- Two green NGOs, State Zoo-cum-Botanical Garden and the Kamrup district administration of Assam have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Hayagriva Temple of Kamrup district to work for a conservation project to protect black softshell turtles.
- This temple is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists.
- Need to protect : The turtles are conserved in temple ponds only based on religious grounds, many biological requirements for building a sustainable wild population have since long been overlooked.
What does this project include?
- It aims to rehabilitate black softshell turtles back to the wild.
- Undertake husbandry tasks to increase the number of turtles .
- Conduct mass awareness programs on the conservation issues of all species of turtles in the region while working on threats and opportunities to strengthen the black softshell turtle population in Assam.