Turtle rehab centre in Bhagalpur, Bihar-The Hindu- 04-01-2020
A first-of-its-kind rehabilitation centre for freshwater turtles will be inaugurated in Bihar’s Bhagalpur forest division in January 2020. The rehab centre, spread over half a hectare, will be able to shelter 500 turtles at a time.
“We found many turtles severely injured, sick or dead, while being rescued from smugglers. This centre will play a significant role in treating these animals and their proper upkeep before being returned to their natural habitat,” senior forest department official Braj Kishore Singh told Down To Earth (DTE).
“In Bhagalpur, the flow of water in the Ganga is ample. Also, there are many sandbanks in the middle of the river, which are ideal breeding ground for turtles.
The size of turtles found in eastern Bihar is good as well. A turtle weighing up to 15 kilograms can be found here.
According to environmentalists, the turtles play a significant role in the river by scavenging dead organic materials and diseased fish, controlling fish population as predators and controlling aquatic plants and weeds. They are also described as indicators of healthy aquatic ecosystems.
The turtles have come under serious threat primarily for two reasons — food and the flourishing pet trade.
Turtles are being frequently targeted for meat due to the prevailing belief that it gives an energy boost and keeps various diseases away. Usually, soft-shell turtles are victims of this belief,” Saket Badola who heads Traffic India, the wildlife trade monitoring network, said.
“On the other hand, hard-shell turtles, especially spotted ones, are being poached for the pet trade. Such turtles are in high demand in south east Asia, China and Japan.
According to a recent study conducted by Traffic India, around 11,000 turtles are being smuggled in India every year. “In the past 10 years, as many as 110,000 turtles have been traded.