- On May 23, 2020, World Turtle Day, a number of conservation agencies launched a citizen science initiative, a mobile-based application called KURMA, aimed at turtle conservation.
About the App
- The application, developed by the Indian Turtle Conservation Action Network (ITCAN) in collaboration with the Turtle Survival Alliance-India and Wildlife Conservation Society-India, not only provides users a database to identify a species but also provides the location of the nearest rescue centre for turtles across the country.
- It serves as a digital database, with a built-in digital field guide covering 29 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises of India, and information on turtle identification, distribution, vernacular names, and threats.
- Tortoise and freshwater turtles are among the most trafficked in the country.
- A report released in 2019 by TRAFFIC, an international wildlife trade monitoring organisation, showed that at least 200 tortoises and freshwater turtles fall prey to illicit poaching and smuggling every week, or 11,000 each year.
- One of the major challenges for freshwater turtle conservation in the country is that wildlife crime prevention agencies are not sufficiently equipped to know how to distinguish one species from the other, or their protection status in accordance with CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and the Wildlife Protection Act.
Back to Basics
Turtle Survival Alliance
- The Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) was formed in 2001 as an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) partnership for sustainable captive management of freshwater turtles and tortoises.
- The TSA arose in response to the rampant and unsustainable harvest of Asian turtle populations to supply Chinese markets, a situation known as the Asian Turtle Crisis.
- Mission: ‘Zero Turtle Extinctions in the 21st Century’.