Less than two decades ago, experts and forest officials were not sure if the once plentiful Nothern River Terrapin (Batagur baska) had survived in the wetlands of Sundarbans.
About Nothern River Terrapin
- Widespread in the coastal mangrove swamps, rivers, and estuaries of Odisha and West Bengal in the early 1900s, unsustainable harvesting had resulted in sharp decline in the population.
- The terrapin is one of five freshwater turtles among the world’s 50 most-threatened turtles.
- The northern river terrapin is one of Asia’s largest freshwater and brackwater turtles.
- It is regionally extinct in Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It is strongly aquatic but uses terrestrial nesting sites, frequenting the tidal areas of estuaries, large rivers, and mangrove forests.
- The species prefers freshwater habitats and moves to brackish river mouths or estuaries in the breeding season.
- IUCN-Critically endangered.
- India’s “top five” at risk include Batagur baska, the northern river terrapin found in the Sundarbans, and the red-crowned roof turtle, Batagur kachuga, from the National Chambal Sanctuary, spread across Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
- Others are Chitra indica, the South Asian narrow-headed softshell turtle in the gangetic river system, Nilssonia nigricans, or black softshell turtle, encountered in temple ponds in north Bengal and Assam, and Pelochelys cantorii, the Asian giant softshell turtle in the east. The northern river terrapin, the red-crowned roof turtle and giant softshell turtle are critically endangered, says the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, while the black softshell is extinct in the wild, and the narrow-headed softshell is endangered.
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