World Turtle Day: Over 80 turtles released into Ganga

A dozen rescued spotted pond turtles along with 73 others born in Lucknow, were released in their natural habitat in the river Ganga in Fatehpur district on Wednesday to mark the World Turtle Day.

Nine of them were rescued from Maharastra and three from Uttar Pradesh and were brought to Kukrail Gharial Breeding Centre. Also 73 turtles that were released with the rescued ones were born at the breeding centre in 2016.

“These black pond turtles were once abundantly found in northern and north-eastern region of India. The Spotted Pond Turtle (Geoclemys hamiltonii) found in northern and north-eastern region of India, are on the brink of extinction due to the excessive use of lentic water for agriculture and other purposes,” said Ashok Prasad Sinha, conservator of forest endangered species project with the Uttar Pradesh forest department.

“They are listed as vulnerable in IUCN Red List. These species have been accorded the highest level of security by placing them in schedule 1 of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972,” said Arunima Singh of Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) that conducted the event along with the forest department.

Though famous for being kept as pets in south eastern countries, turtles are also subjected to illegal poaching and trading and excessive use in food and pharmaceutical industry. The looming threat on their survival has placed them on Appendix 1 of CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species). Such time-to-time introduction of young individuals will help to replenish the fast depleting natural population of the species.

Turtles are known as bio resources responsible for cleansing the contaminated water bodies. Out of 15 species found in the state, the Kukrail Breeding Centre harbours more than 11 species of turtles. The centre has helped release more than 18,000 turtles into its aquatic ecosystem including the Ganga.

y was fixed as an annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. This was 23rd world turtle day. Experts say turtles or tortoises should not be removed from the wild unless they are sick or injured. If you find a tortoise is crossing a busy street, pick it up and send it in the same direction it was going. If you try to make it go back, it will turn around again.