NGO braces to save Assam rare turtles

Ganges Softshell turtles, scientifically known as Trionyx Gangeticus ,are fast becoming extinct as hundreds of these turtles are regularly being killed by local fishermen and sold in markets, especially in Silchar's Fatak Bazar. Turtle meat and eggs are considered delicious by many in this part of Assam.

The situation has further aggravated because of the apathy of the authorities.

This is despite the fact that hunting of these turtles is a punishable offence under Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
The EnSSA, in concert with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) recently took up a study to assess the nature and extent of threat to this particular species.

"The EnSSA will carry out a special study with the help of the experts from the BNHS near the bank of the Rukni river, the main breeding ground of these turtles, and in ox-bow lakes of the Barak river during the next winter," Dr.Abhik Gupta, reader in the department of ecology, Assam University, and project coordinator of the EnSSA's "Turtle Save Programme".

Ganges Softshell turtles are mostly seen on the Rukni riverbed. Both the EnSSA and BNHS would initiate steps to identify other major turtle trapping areas as well as their breeding grounds besides Rukni.

The EnSSA is also planning intense awareness campaigns among the fishermen living in the major turtle trapping areas and the local NGOs.

It also aims to direct the attention of the State Government towards this matter.