West Bengal has joined hands with a non-government organisation to carry out a crucial project for conservation of the species of turtle found in the state, officials said.
The initiative, to be undertaken in association with the forest department, comes after the success of the conservation project regarding Batagur baska, one of the most endangered turtle species in the world. “This will be an extension of the Batagur baska project and we are preparing a plan-of-action report,” Shailendra Singh, turtle expert at the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), told PTI.
Out of the 20 species of freshwater turtles found in West Bengal, the TSA will carry out a detailed study on the status and distribution of the species, Singh said. At least seven of them are critically endangered, including the red crowned roofed turtle, three-striped roofed turtle and elongated tortoise.
The report will contain the steps necessary for the conservation of the Assam roofed turtles, which are generally found in the Jaldapara and Gorumara region, the scientist said. The status and distribution of the leaf turtle, found in the Terai region, are unknown. A survey will also be conducted out on the turtles, Singh said.
“The new initiative will help in the conservation of the other species of turtles found in West Bengal,” Sunderbans Tiger Reserve deputy field director Justin Jones said. The report will be submitted to the forest department, Singh said, adding that the TSA signed a memorandum of understanding with it on May 23.
The TSA and the department have a recovery plan for the Batagur baska till 2030. A similar vision plan is there for the black soft shell turtle. The conservation project of the northern river terrapin or Batagur baska is being deemed successful since the population of the species has increased to 400 in 2022 from 12 a decade ago.