Black soft shell turtle

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    7th Feb, 2019

Context

  • Recently, black softshells hatchlings were released into the Haduk Beel (wetland) of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam.
  • The rare turtle species are being bred in the ponds of various temples and shrines of the State.

About

Black soft shell turtle

  • It is a freshwater turtle that is found in India and Bangladesh.
  • Of the 29 species of freshwater turtles identified in India, 20 are found in Assam, and temple ponds are known to house a dozen species.
  • It is omnivorous, with a diet ranging from aquatic plants to aquatic insects and carrion. Indian black turtles may sometimes be seen to aggregate alongside the carcass of a large dead animal.
  • The black softshell turtle (Nilssonia nigricans) figures in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List as “extinct in the wild” since 2002.
  • Consumption of turtle meat and eggs, silt mining, encroachment of wetlands and change in flooding pattern have had a disastrous impact on the State’s turtle population.


                           Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary

    • The sanctuary is situated in the flood plains of river Brahmaputra in the district of Morigaon.
    • It has the second highest concentration of rhinos in Assam after Kaziranga National Park.
    • It also serves as a birder’s heaven in winters with thousands of waterfowls thronging the wetlands. Other animals found in the region are, leopard, wild boar, barking deer, wild buffalo, etc.

Significance

  • Turtles occupy a unique position within the food web. They consume an assortment of prey, including puffer fish, crustaceans, sponges, tunicates, sea grasses, and algae. The unusual life cycle of the animal plays a vital role in transportation of nutrients from the highly productive marine habitats such as sea-grass beds to energy-poor habitats like sandy beaches. This helps reverse the usual flow of nutrients from land to sea.
  • They further help to maintain healthy fish stocks in the water bodies.
  • Unhatched eggs, eggshells and fluids help foster decomposes and create much needed fertilizer.
  • As turtle populations in general decline, so does their ability to play a vital role in maintaining the health of the world’s aquatic ecosystems.
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