Good news for turtle conservation as 46 eggs of four species of turtles – black soft-shell turtle, Indian soft-shell turtle, peacock soft-shell turtle and Indian flap-shell turtle – have hatched in the artificial incubation centre at Hayagriv Madhav Temple of Hajo. The artificial incubation initiative was started by an NGO named Help Earth with the support of the temple management and district administration last year, which was successful in breeding an extinct-in-wild species, the black soft-shell turtle.
Conservationist Jayaditya Purkayastha shares that the whole idea behind the initiative is to increase the wild population of these rare species. Hence, in the greater interest of turtle conservation, the hatchlings should be allowed to be released into the wild. Having large concentrations of turtles in the small ponds in the temple can also expose them to the risk of infectious diseases, which can wipe out the entire population.
Assam, the most species-rich State in India in terms of turtle diversity, is home to 20 species of turtles and tortoises out of 29 present in India. Unfortunately, most of these species are threatened with extinction. Among all major vertebrate groups, turtles are one of the most threatened animals. Of the total of 356 species occurring throughout the globe, 148 (60.4 per cent) are officially listed as ‘Threatened’ by IUCN criteria.